Thursday, June 25, 2009

Balancing Brunch

Taking my parents to a hip New York City hot spot is about as stressful as watching Frank Bruni’s face as he takes the first bite of your new restaurant’s Risotto Milanese. My parents are the kind of people that aren’t blinded by the pomp, posh panache that often threaten to fog my oversized Pradas, so when we go out together the food must speak for itself. On our continuing culinary journey over Father’s Day weekend, we went to the much lauded brunch at Jane.

Jane puts the “Ho” in “SoHo,” sitting on West Houston Street, atop the ever-so-hip NYC neighborhood. The high ceilings, clean lines and warm neutral tones give Jane a sleek feel without cold minimalist sterility. We arrived for our 10:30 reservation and the three of us were jammed into a two-person corner banquet inches away from a table of fellow brunchers. Not a group known for biting our tongues, we spoke up and were moved in minutes. Although our waiter undoubtedly lost a chance for a table of four at our new location, he made us feel welcome, noting how much easier it would be to serve us there. After seeing hundreds of sneers when I say, “Oh, tap water will be fine,” it was refreshing to have a server show a little class.

While perusing the menu, we ordered juice in lieu of the complimentary cocktails that accompany brunch after noontime. Damn, no wonder I was able to get this reservation at 10:30; at least the grapefruit juice tasted freshly squeezed. Without any traditional typical standbys, my parents were a bit skeptical, but we all found something and hoped for the best.

My dad ordered the Farm House Scramble - smoked ham, gruyere, and caramelized onions. This amped-up version of a ham and cheese omelette was excellent. It was moist without being runny and flavorful without being salty. The key to a successful omelette is the perfect balance with a seemingly effortless finesse. My mother went the lunch route, which is always a hotly debated issue at any brunch table. She had the BLT & E – a sunny up egg, crisp bacon, bibb lettuce, tomato, and lemon aioli an brioche with rosemary fries. Her plate had me wishing I too opted for the –unch part of brunch. The sandwich was a delightful play on the classic. Nothing too over-the-top to take away from the sense that you’re having a BLT, but the sweet brioche foiled the salty bacon and the lemon aioli cut through the fat making this dish another triumph of balance.

After two well-executed balancing acts, it was surprising that the only issue I had with my dish was the balance. I had the Benedict Johnny -poached eggs, maple chicken sausage, corn pancakes, and roasted tomato hollandaise. Each element was delicious and my dad even noted how expertly the eggs were poached. It all just fell a bit short of coming together. The sweet corn pancakes stood out. Although they were good, they overshadowed the equally well-crafted sausage and delicate egg orbs.

All in all the food was quality and the service good, a rare find that pleased both my parents and me. Next time, however, I’ll be making my reservation when the booze are flowing.

100 West Houston Street, New York City

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