Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Brunch at Five Points

One of the big problems with many of the popular brunch places in the city (Public, for example) is that it's difficult/impossible to make a reservation. However, we called Saturday night and got a 1:30 (perfect timing, IMO) brunch reservation at Five Points in the East Village.

The room is long and the surprisingly elegant (not that it's particularly elegant...just more than I'd expected). A long hollowed half-log table runs down the center of the room, with large vases adorning it and a shallowing stream running off the end. The front of the room is too dark for my taste, but we were seated in the back, where sunlight pours into the open kitchen and back tables through a glass ceiling. Wood beams it this back section add additional warmth. We were seated next to where the log stream runs off into a rock-lined pool. I managed to knock over two large rocks with a pretty terrific crash during the course of the meal.

Our initial waiter disappeared after taking our drink orders and telling us the specials. The milk that was sitting on the table curdled slightly in Adam's coffee (ewww), but the replacement waitress was very nice and swift about replacing it. We started with the ricotta fritters with carmelized apples and belinis. The fritters were delicious, soft, dough, but still nicely light. The carmelized apples made a great accompaniment. However, they don't quite live up to oliebollen (literally "oil balls," these great fried round doughnuts dusted in powder sugar that are available around the holidays and at fair year-round in the Netherlands). No one does doughy goodness like the Dutch! Adam got a classic peach bellini, but I got a Belle du Jour bellini made with some sort of peach brandy (it was sweeter and less fizzy than Adam's, but we each liked our respective choices).

Adam ordered the roasted tomato & eggs with soft polenta & parmesan. He said later that it reminded him of something he'd eaten at a Moroccan restaurant, but his dinner partner at that meal said that it is typical Israeli fare. I really liked this dish, but with its mixture of tomatoes (more saucy than distinct tomatoes), cheese, polenta, and slightly runny eggs tasted more like a big comfortable mix than an innovative combination. The polenta wasn't particularly distinct, but rather added thickness and texture to the flavors of the tomatoes and cheese.

My lemon ricotta pancakes were the lightest, creamiest pancakes I've ever had. The lemon isn't overwhelming, but at the same time I felt like the dish needed something to contrast with the mellow lemony creaminess. Syrup helped, but I hesitated to drown them in it. In retrospect, I think some sort of fruit sauce (a thin raspberry puree, perhaps), would have added an extra element of complementary flavor.

After having finished our bellinis, Adam decided he wanted to try a Bloody Mary (despite thinking he probably didn't like them). I ordered a Pisco Sour, equally unsure if I would like it. Adam feared that I would make him end up drinking both of them (as I had done with much of my mojito at Mercadito brunch), so he made me promise ahead of time that I'd drink my share! Then, when they arrived, he couldn't force down his drink ("tasted like something you should dunk shrimp in") because he was so full (a likely story). I ended up finishing mine, though I didn't love it. However, it wasn't so bad if I drank it quickly, and I left the restaurant nicely mellowed.

Service seemed vaguely inattentive and poorly timed. There was a long lag time between our fritters and entrees, and our second drinks (which we'd ordered before the entrees arrived) didn't show up until we'd almost finished eating. However, these are minor enough complaints, and I'd go back. The possibility of reservations and pitchers of brunch drinks make this seem like a particularly good destination with a group of brunch-loving friends.


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