For Anglophiles, boulevardiers, and various out-of-town grandees, there’s no better place in town to start the day than at Le Caprice, in the Pierre Hotel on Fifth Avenue. At the polished black-marble dining counter, the large, opulent morning menu includes bubbling plates of Welsh rarebit, helpings of kedgeree folded with shreds of smoked haddock and salmon, and a crisp-fried, uptown version of fish and chips made with fresh cod and served with a mound of mint-flavored mashed peas on the side. For an even grander spread, the choice is the newly renovated dining room at The Mark, at the newly renovated Mark Hotel on Madison Avenue, where my mother and I like to settle in for weekend brunch to sip Bellinis flavored with litchis and raspberries at the tables by the bar, and watch the passing scene. Jean-Georges’s lavish brunch menu features $89 servings of caviar with fresh blinis, and wheels of pizza sprinkled with black truffles. But if you’re wise, you’ll spend your cash on expertly updated classics like the croque monsieur, which is layered here with a fluffy, faintly charred topping of Gruyère and slices of country ham from Flying Pigs Farm upstate and crowned with two fried quail eggs.
If you’re in need of a more economical hangover pick-me-up, follow the gangs of bleary-eyed hipsters to Taavo Somer’s East Village dining destination, Peels, and plunk down $3 for one of the thick, impressively flaky house-baked buttermilk biscuits, which you can stuff, for a few dollars more, with scrambled organic farm eggs, strips of smoked bacon, and deposits of melting pepper-jack cheese. My favorite breakfast sandwich in the meatpacking district is the $10 combo of Kentucky bacon, fried eggs, and Cheddar cheese at The Standard Grill, but when it’s a truly substantial, lumberjack-size morning meal I’m after, I head to M. Wells, in Long Island City. The Quebeçois nose-to-tail chef Hugue Dufour and his wife, Sarah Obraitis, have recently occupied an old diner where they specialize in restorative offal classics like fried pickled pork tongue, and great Gulliver-size wedges of meat pie. The lighter, more classic preparations on the inventive, constantly evolving menu—a crispy tortilla Española for $6, a towering smoked-salmon blini topped with healthful mounds of salad—are also worth the trip.
Weekend mornings are the easiest time to gain entrance into Keith McNally’s clamorous, semiprivate Minetta Tavern, where the lavish brunch menu includes old-world breakfast treats like shirred eggs with black truffles, and a rich black-pudding clafoutis garnished with caramelized apples. For a slightly earthier take on trendy weekend brunch, the choice is Marc Forgione, in Tribeca, where the city’s reigning Iron Chef serves up thick waffles with sides of country-fried quail, and an ingenious, fat man’s “Eggs Benny” made with hollowed-out crispy-skinned potatoes instead of English muffins. If you’ve been on a serious weekend bender, there’s no better place to conclude your festivities than Tom Colicchio’s meatpacking-district dining palace, Colicchio & Sons. Sit up front in the casual, sun-splashed Tap Room and order the aptly named Tenth Avenue Hangover, which Colicchio’s young chefs make with wet poached eggs, a well-simmered soffritto folded with stewed tripe, and a soothing topping of creamy, beer-laced sabayon.