Let's Do Brunch
What do you do on a drizzly Sunday morning, when you find yourself waking up on the Upper Westside in New York? You call your best Yuppie and say, "Dawling, let's do brunch!" That is exactly what we did. Thank goodness New Yorkers stay up late, and get moving in the morning late. This low energy morning, we strolled over to Isabella's at about 11:00 am, and the restaurant was just barely getting started. An hour later, it was going to be a long wait for some patrons.
Isabella's is in a very residential neighborhood, and it is a place to "see and be seen" for the native Upper West and Eastsiders. There isn't a whole lot of tourists eating at Isabella's because it is about 20 blocks north of the most northern midtown hotels, and it is not marketed towards tourists. Great for me because I was seen by New Yorkers (and not by my tourist peeps), and the natives could probably pick me out as a tourist because I have not lived in a real city for so long, and I now dress like my cousin Marjorie from Nebraska! At least I am not wearing grandma jeans (note, I am not old enough to be a grandma, and until then, I will resist buying grandma jeans). Anyway, Isabella's is also a part of New York's power restaurant group, B. R. Guest who also owns Blue Fin, Atlantic Grill, and Blue Water Grill in Chicago and New York. Because Isabella's is a part of this restaurant group, the food was dead on, the wait staff was great, and the restaurant was one of the first in New York to make sidewalk cafe dining chic.
I want to first talk about the coffee. I got the perfect cup of coffee. It was coffee, and I put a dab of cream and a little raw sugar in it, and I sipped it while saying, "Ahhh!" It was just a good cup of coffee. I think that most of the USA has gotten to a weird headspace about coffee, with having to have way too many descriptors, like a double half caf half decaf skim soy milk three quarter foam extra heated sugar free organic cocoa violet extract charcoal filtered latte. Now look, any coffee bean roasted more than a day ago is stale, no matter if it is ground the day of roasting, or right before the coffee is brewed. Back in the 1980's when I lived in a real city with access to excellent coffee and beans, I used to be a coffee snob. These days, I have simplified, and I just enjoy a really good cup of coffee, and a little cream or soy milk that I add myself. Thanks Isabella's for serving JUST COFFEE. Just Coffee is a lost art, and Isabella's does it so well, that I could completely take it for granted.
OK. What did we dine on? Of course, in good New York brunch style, we got Nova Scotia Lox. Here is what the Young One got. How perfect. A bagel not toasted because no good Jewish New Yorker would dare toast a perfect New York bagel. Toasting bagels is left for the inferior bagels from the freezer or bad bagel chains. Young One opted wisely with the bagel, lox, cream cheese, capers, tomato and red onions. What a beautiful plate. Young One was very happy.
A couple of us opted for the Eggs Benedict made with lox, not Canadian Bacon. Come on, we are in New York, so why would you not go for the lox? The eggs were hot, and it was obvious that the waitstaff served my plate right away, and there was no heat lamp to speak off. The Hollandaise sauce with dill was fluid and buttery, and not dried out from sitting too long waiting to be served. It was as perfect as you can get for serving my brunch plate.
Matt got the breakfast burrito. Yes, they have a breakfast burrito here. He really likes the breakfast burrito, and I think that he really enjoyed his burrito.
This place produced breakfast well, and solidly. There were no putting-on-airs about the ingredients or preparation. Rather, this kitchen prepared and presented traditional recipes in a traditional way, and in the way I really wanted. There was none of that smoke and mirrors such as crazy ingredients that don't belong, or fusion in all the wrong way. The food here will stand the test of time, the waitstaff understands how to deliver dishes straight from the kitchen, each dish is perfectly hot, and Isabella's pours one good cup of coffee.
Labels: New York Eats