Whenever Amy is back in town from St. Louis visiting family and friends over the holidays, she and I always make sure to squeeze some quality catching-up-time during these tightly packed visits. First stop? Brunch, of course, and this time it was at Tenth Avenue Cookshop in Chelsea, right near the High Line on the West Side.
In the 1800s, a cookshop was "a private home where cooks served simply prepared food -- i.e., the menu was prepared using only the product available to the chef, often nurtured on their own land." Accordingly, Cookshop embraces this spirit from the origins of its humble moniker.
Chef Marc Meyer, the chef behind the kitchen at Cookshop, focuses on a New American approach to cooking with seasonal availability as its cornerstone, especially in supporting "sustainable ingredients, humanely raised animals, and local farmers/artisans." He has a good point in stating that "the butcher and the baker were the first chefs" reflecting his profound "respect for the earth and its bounty."
I love the farm-to-table influence on the interiors of the restaurant. The gliding, thin panels of maple-colored wood squared off by the contrasting white outlines from the ceiling really make the space resonate the kitchen's commitment to sustainable cuisine.
Especially it being the yuletide season, the restaurant was quite festive, too!
With any brunch scene in New York City, one must familiarize him/herself with the cocktail offerings. It was clear on the beverage menu (and pretty much what each person was sipping on in the dining room of Cookshop) that Bloody Marys are its specialty drinks, with five distinctive offerings available on the menu. Amy decided to be adventurous and try the restaurant's classic take on the brunch beverage -- the Cookshop Mary which had vodka, tomato juice, lemon, Worcestershire sauce, fresh horseradish, and Tabasco. She had them go light on the Tabasco, and she found it quite refreshing. I opted for something other than a Bloody Mary, so I went for the Peace on Earth -- peach vodka, apple cider, orgeat syrup, lemon, and orange bitters (which contained nuts). The vodka in this was quite strong for a morning cocktail only to be softened in intensity by the apple cider and lemon juice. The orange bitters added an interesting element to it -- definitely gave the cocktail a little edge, making it a fittingly sip-worthy drink for brunch.
For my main course, I had the house-made pastrami hash with Finger Lakes grass fed brisket, poached eggs, spiced jus, sage, and potato. This was the perfect dish to escape the severe winter cold that day -- starchy potatoes soaking up the spiced jus were heartily delectable with the soft and juicy chunks of loose pastrami meat that had just fallen off their bones. The runny yolks melted onto the steamy pile of deliciousness, and I was in breakfast heaven. A major step up from the classic corned beef hash -- good stuff!
Amy had the frittata with caramelized onions, roasted portobello mushrooms, sage, and DiPalo’s mozzarella. It was nicely browned and flat like a pancake, filled with the lovely combination of onions and mushrooms and melted fresh mozzarella enveloped in a soft layer of egg.
Findings: All in all, our brunch at the Tenth Avenue Cookshop proved to be fantastic! Many multi-meal restaurants (i.e., ones that offer not only evening fare but lunch during the week and brunch on the weekends) fall victim to spreading themselves too thin trying to offer it all. Fortunately, Cookshop has a lovely brunch to offer, especially for its delicious offerings, its vibrantly punchy cocktails, and its energetic weekend ambiance. With a comfortable reservation policy in place, quality isn't compromised one bit, and there is no rushing guests out to turnover more tables -- just the way an ideal brunch experience is supposed to be. The menu's price point, even without a cocktail-grub prix fixe offering, is pretty easy on the wallet (under $30 for an entrée with a choice of cocktail from a variegated list). Cookshop has now decidedly been added to my solid brunch spots -- can't wait for a subsequent visit!
Price point: $14-16 for each main course, $12 for each brunch cocktail.
--December 22, 2012
(Tenth Avenue) Cookshop
156 Tenth Avenue
New York, NY 10011