8. Breakfast Has Gone Global.
Not so long ago, a runny helping of eggs Benedict washed down with a mimosa or two was the cultivated New Yorker’s idea of the ultimate international breakfast. But these days, the city is awash in so many inventive new brunch-time creations inspired by food from around the globe that it’s hard for even the most diligent breakfast maven to keep track of them all. At the crowded dining counter at Michael White’s rustico downtown pasta palace, Osteria Morini, the canoe-size guanciale-and-egg sandwich is available as an off-the-menu special, if you ask politely, on weekends only. And at Seamus Mullen’s nouveau tapas joint, Tertulia, on Sixth Avenue, the weekend brunch menu includes scrambled eggs dotted with plump ruby-red shrimp, platters of smoked-lamb-and-potato hash, and the chef’s famous ode to the Egg McMuffin, made with a toasted Spanish olive-oil roll, crushed eggs and potatoes, and sticky, deep-red curls of 36-month-old Iberico ham.
The superb fried Yard Bird with mashed potatoes and mace gravy is the thing I always order when I visit Marcus Samuelsson’s perpetually mobbed uptown brasserie, Red Rooster, but if you go at brunch time, you can also sample ribbons of Swedish gravlax dressed with a mustard vinaigrette, and platters of lamb and potato hash, which Samuelsson flavors, Scandinavian style, with chopped beets and sprigs of fresh rosemary. Similar eclectic breakfast pleasures are available down in Battery Park City at Danny Meyer’s latest fine-dining venture, North End Grill, where my daughter Penelope and I like to repair, on brisk Saturday afternoons, to dine on tall stacks of pancakes touched with bourbon and crème fraîche and an inventive version of eggs Benedict, which chef Floyd Cardoz makes with johnnycakes instead of English muffins and spoonfuls of fresh-whipped hollandaise spiced with chipotle.
If you’re in the mood for a proper Montreal-style nose-to-tail breakfast, there’s no more civilized venue than Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis’s M. Wells Dinette, at MoMA’s PS1 in Long Island City, where $24 buys a crock of oats mingled with foie gras and a great hubcap-size tortilla española, flavored with blood sausage and served with half of a toasty French baguette. For the best breakfast tortilla in town, my discerning, breakfast-loving daughter, Jane, suggests you proceed to the East Village to the newest branch of Alex Stupak’s mini Mexican-restaurant empire, Empellón Cocina. The focused brunch menu contains exotic delicacies like slow-poached eggs with challah toast and green-chorizo gravy, and a delicious version of chilaquiles chopped into crunchy little squares and topped with black beans and two sunny-side-up eggs. Most exotic of all, though, is the lobster dish, which Stupak serves as a kind of communal fondue made with chunks of fresh Maine lobster and melted Spanish tetilla cheese, with a stack of warm hand-rolled flour tortillas on the side.