Decadent Brunch in a Noir Style Setting – Review of The Breslin Bar & Dining Room

BY BETH KAISERMAN

The Breslin Bar and Dining Room
16 W. 29th St.
Flatiron District
(212) 679-1939/thebreslin.com

Walking into the Ace Hotel made me wish I was having a shady 1940s crime drama-style rendezvous. At least part of that desire was fulfilled by having breakfast in the 1940s-esque atmosphere of The Breslin Bar and Dining Room in the hotel.

The owners of British gastropub, Spotted Pig, Ken Friedman and chef April Bloomfield teamed up again, to open the Breslin in October of ‘09.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes at Breslin

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes at Breslin

When I tried to call ahead July 4 for brunch, the host informed me that they didn’t accept reservations, but said there was plenty of room. When we got there, the wait was only 10 minutes, and the host said we could start with a drink or coffee at the bar and bring it to the table. About 7 minutes in, my coffee arrived as we were told the table was ready. It was a bit difficult and awkward carrying a full cup of coffee to the table. Also, she failed to mention that we had to pay for the drinks separately at the bar. If staff members had been better coordinated, this would have been a good way to deal way to have guests deal with the wait, but as it played out, it was  confusing and somewhat frustrating from the guests’ side of things.

The confusion continued for a bit after we were seated. One waitress came over for our drink orders, then a few moments later another popped up. The service wasn’t entirely bad; the waitress was very upbeat and knowledgeable, and seemed genuinely excited to have us there indulging in some eclectic fare, but the staff could definitely use some sorting out of its kinks.

Fried PB&J Sandwich at Breslin

Fried PB&J Sandwich at Breslin

Missteps aside, the food really stood out. The chilled grapefruit with ginger sugar and mint was the perfect pick-me-up to start a Sunday brunch. I chose the fried peanut butter and banana sandwich for my meal, and the waitress was very helpful in informing me that the bourbon flavor would be very pronounced. That didn’t stop me from enjoying every last bite of this decadent morning treat.

At first I thought it was dry and flavorless, but that was because I ate an end piece first. As I got through it, the middle was warm and gooey, and the bourbon flavor had a pretty powerful presence – strong enough to warrant her warning. While it was interesting, it’s not something I would order again. Also, despite the sandwich being fried and thus seemingly heavy, I wasn’t completely full after the meal. Nevertheless, I didn’t find the price for the brunch to be excessive — I often find myself throwing down $20 total for brunch on a weekend, and I appreciated the fact that the coffee, brewed freshly at Stumptown Coffee Roasters in the hotel, was only $2.50 for an endless cup. But if you need your A.M. cured meat (or gin) fix, this is where it could get pricey. The Breslin is known for its house-made meats and other items, which will hike your bill up considerably. For example, cocktails are $12 each — but are all made with freshly squeezed juices and house-made syrups.

My friend ordered the lemon ricotta pancakes. They were certainly better than others I’ve had elsewhere, but they could have had more fluffiness, which is the dealbreaker for me and pancakes. For $15, they were nothing to rave about.

Even though brunch at Breslin did not wow me, I would really like to go back for dinner.  The restaurant is notable for its meat offerings, and the lamb burger looked incredible. It’s an intriguing place with an impressive cocktail list and a great beer selection. Cocktails are $12 and many of them are made with fresh squeezed juices and home made syrups. I’d imagine the place is insane when it’s packed, so I’ll be prepared for that.

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