Friday, June 19, 2009
In New York City, brunch is so rarely about food; it’s about big sunglasses, big mimosas, and big gossip. I just had one of these big brunches in a small restaurant with an even smaller friend. This fabulous fashionista (check out her http://hauteheaded.blogspot.com) and I both barely break 5 feet and 110 pounds, so we are always “such an adorable couple,” to which I say “seriously?” as a purse falls out of my mouth. For this particularly huge bit of gossip, we decided to tuck ourselves away in the back garden of August on the designer dominate west half of Bleeker Street (disclosure: the staff of Ralph Lauren Kids and Little Marc Jacobs may or may not know me by name).
August’s small front entrance leads to a charming and warm dining room flanked by a wood-burning stove in the back. On a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, however, we walked right past the tables, oven and freshly made array of baked goods, into their equally delightful back garden. The garden has a glass ceiling, which gives the illusion of being outside; however, a well-placed air conditioner makes the experience much more pleasant – this is how I envision gay camping.
August’s cuisine is artisanal and pan-European. While the menu is certainly eclectic, the tone of the entire restaurant is decidedly Provencal. The aforementioned wood oven isn’t only adorable, but also put to good use. Many of the brunch items, from the cast-iron German pancake to the baked eggs en cocotte, are all oven baked. We both chose different versions of the latter. Cocotte is French for casserole and eggs en cocotte traditionally means they have been baked in a casserole dish individually with either cream or butter (is butter a carb?). August does their cocotte in small cast-iron pans.
Being truly pan-European, August offers these baked eggs in several preparations named for the region from which they hail. My friend had the “Roman,” with tomato and mozzarella. I decided to channel my Eastern European roots and chose the “Bavarian,” dressed with Riesling-braised cabbage and smoked ham. One bite of the Bavarian and I was ready to don a pair of lederhosen (again). The dish had an outstanding balance of savory and sweet with perfectly cooked eggs that aptly broke and flooded my pan with yoke. What I found perhaps most surprising was the dish’s uncanny ability to be incredibly rich and yet somehow leave me feeling satisfied without feeling overstuffed.
Our gossip covered and our stomach’s full, we did what any two young recessionista’s would do, shop.
359 Bleecker Street
(between Charles & West 10th)
New York, NY 10014