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#FridayFive: Five Brunch Spots in West Village, Manhattan

Friday Five

Brunch used to be a staple in my weekly plans in New York. Now though, not so much. I did visit a fair few well-known places in Manhattan before isolation began however, and there will be a time when I am visiting these places once again.

Some I had high hopes for, that just fell short of expectations. I’m longing for the days when the sun is out and shining, I’m having brunch sat outside a cafe in the West Village and then spending the rest of the afternoon lounging in Central Park with a big group of friends.

The West Village is one of, if not my favourite area of New York. It’s more homely and less touristy than the other areas. The houses are beautiful, the streets are lined with old buildings with huge steps leading up to the front door and a lot of thrift stores and vintage shops.

It’s also got a lot of great brunch spots, and I’ve probably spent more Saturday and Sunday mornings in this area of New York than anywhere else.

1. BANTER

I had heard of Banter from a few recommendations, but the first time we tried to go there was a two hour waiting list. We were starving, so headed somewhere else close by instead.

The next time we wanted to go to Banter, we were prepared and arrived early, put our name on the list and then went for an hour and a half wander around West Village before our table was ready.

The very small cafe doesn’t take bookings on weekends and you’re lucky if you’re able to get in and get seated. There’s definitely no social distancing in Banter with most tables almost on top of each other, you can smell what the table next to you are having for their brunch.

It was a morning after a night out when we went to Banter, so we didn’t opt for the healthiest of options (which is 99% of the menu) and instead ordered what sounded like the greasiest thing they had on offer. The portion size was huge and we even ordered some sweet potato fries on the side.

It was one of my favourite brunches that I’ve had in New York, although it does come with a hefty price tag. Be prepared to pay $50 for breakfast for two people.

2. THE GREY DOG

This is the cafe that we stumbled upon when we couldn’t get into Banter the first time. And what a nice place to stumble upon. There was a queue to get seated here as well, and the ordering system is quite peculiar.

We queued up and ordered at the counter, even before we were given a seat. Once we were given a table, the waiters would come from the kitchen shouting random names for orders. They would walk through the restaurant shouting your name for you to claim your food. Bizarre, but it seemed to work.

I surprisingly enough ordered avocado toast with poached eggs. They came with some home fries (which every meal in America seems to come with) and we ordered a side of smoked salmon too. It was really nice, although the poached egg a little overcooked.

3. THE BUTCHER’S DAUGHTER

This was actually the last brunch I had in Manhattan before quarantine set in. A spot that I’d been dying to try for ages, I expected a queue and to have to wait an hour or so to be seated. When we got there, there were many empty tables and by the time we were leaving, we were the last remaining customers.

It’s a hugely popular spot in New York for brunch, but it seemed people were already following the isolation guidelines and not going to restaurants. The restaurant itself is very small and they have a few other locations in Williamsburg and by Delancey Street in Lower East.

I love the decor of The Butcher’s Daughter. It’s very Malibu-vibes with lots of blue and white paint. We grabbed a soft seat by the window and had our breakfast here. The eggs avocado was great, and I’ll definitely be heading back in the summer to sit outside and enjoy the surrounding scenes of the West Village with my morning coffee.

4. JACK’S WIFE FREDA

This is probably one of the best-known brunch spots in New York and one of the most famous, but I must say, it didn’t really do much for me and I don’t think I’ll be rushing back any time soon.

The menu is healthy and full of vegan options, but it is very overpriced. I had eggs avocado, but the avocado wasn’t smashed and the toast that came was like one slice cut in two. It definitely wasn’t worth the price tag and our table was in the middle of everyone entering and leaving the restaurant, so not the best.

If I was to go back, I think I’d be ordering something different on the menu and opting for a better table at the back. It did seem to cater a lot to influencer-type customers as there were people there dressed like they had walked off of my Instagram Explore page.

5. SHUKA

A group of six of us headed to Shuka one Sunday morning for some well-deserved brunch. I say well-deserved, but there was nothing really special about that Sunday morning other than a weekly routine of brunch, only this time venturing outside of Jersey. (If you want some Jersey brunch recommendations, you can find those here).

There were six of us for brunch that morning, and as you can guess, this place specialized in Shakshuaks. I’ve only ever had one shakshuka in my life (from Leaf on Bold Street) but I was very excited to have something other than avocado toast for a change (I know, shock horror).

I had the original shakshuka which was very, very tasty and a little spicy. The food around me looked very good too, and the restaurant is huge and was very busy, which is always promising.

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