It’s been way too long since we’ve spent decent eating time in New York and we have a blog backlog when it comes to posts about New York City. I always say that I don’t give much weight to service and decor at restaurants cause ultimately i’ll put up with crappy renditions of each if the food is good enough. That said, nobody who writes opinion pieces can be completely objective. And this particular brunch was set in a particularly inviting location — Pastis, in New York City. The decor is dripping with time, care, and detail. At one point I was taking pictures and the staff asked me not to shoot the restaurant. At least they didn’t stop me from shooting the food which is what I really cared about anyway.
Brunch is a funny meal to write about because it’s so laden with expectaions that only the most established of establishments really has the guts to veer significantly off course. Pastis is pretty well established but they’re definitely doing a variation on a theme. And that’s fine. Cause although I enjoy experimentation, sometimes I also like to eat a really nice brunch. Pastis did a decent job fulfilling that goal.
I make it a habit to try and eat as little bread as possible at restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, I love bread. But if I ate all the bread that was put in front of me I’d weigh 450 pounds, and I’d have no room to eat any of the other food. The bread at Pastis was particularly difficult to ignore, all crusty on the outside and spongy soft inside. When the kickass mustard showed up all tangy and smooth (but not overly so) I really was aunable to restrain myself. The bread was good, but with the mustard it was excellent. Luckily Alex (who grew up for a time in Belgium where mustard had the prevalence that ketchup does here) asked what it was — Maille mustard (I’m guessing their Fine Dijon). (And yes, those are Alex’ fingers dipping the bread into the mustard.)
Next up was the Onion Soup Gratinee. Using his best descriptors from the onion soup ontology Alex warded this rendition the bronze medal in the New York city Onion Soup “Off” (with Balthazar and Blue Ribbon winning the gold and silver respectively). My take was that it was thinner than the others, but not necessarily in a bad way. Actually, it gave it a light quality that I enjoyed. I especially enjoyed the savory tangy deliciousness that was the flavor of the broth. Yummy.
A whole host of dishes arrived including Eggs Benedict, Eggs Hussard, French Toast, and Steak Frites with Bearnaise. The French Toast was the least impressive of the group. Overly thick without much interesting going on. Eh. But things got better from there. The Hussard was a touch heavy, but the flavors were super present. The steak frites was excellent. And the eggs benedict was definitely the champion of the bunch. It’s not that it was particularly creative, but it was what you would taste when you looked up “Eggs Benedict” if food dictionaries came with samples.
Pastis was a pleasure for brunch. And how often can you try very well executed examples of Bearnaise, Hollandaise, and Bordelaise all in one meal? This is the place for such experiences.