Brunch. To everyone else it’s not quite breakfast and not quite lunch. To people living in New York, it’s a weekend practice that’s as ubiquitous and commonplace as the buttered bagel or the margarita slice. Between the hours of 11am to even 4pm on weekends, New York is the brunchiest town there is. Bars, five-star restaurants, pastry shops, and even bookstores turn over their normal wares to serve eggs to the hungover and the hungry. Many places even offer an unlimited mimosa/sangria option for those who truly believe nothing cures a hangover better than more alcohol.
One of my favorites is Petite Abeille, a Belgian Restaurant and Cafe in Flatiron. They actually have a few locations with the exact same food, but this one has the best reviews, is the smallest, and the most crowded. We arrive on a brisk Saturday at noon to an overflowing entrance. “20-30 minutes,” says mister frenchie, which in New York speak means 40 minutes to an hour wait. It is borderline claustrophobic, but the smell of waffles and croissants is so inviting and we decide to stay. The walls are lined with “Adventures of Tintin” prints and racks of vintage, French children’s books. The space itself is kitschy and very cute and there’s even a vined brick garden in the back.
After 40 minutes (didn’t I tell you?), we finally get seated. I order the Croque Madame and frites, basically an open faced ham and Gruyere with a fried egg on top and fries. My friend Ava orders the Gaufre Special, a Belgian waffle with whipped cream and fresh seasonal fruit; and her friend get the Eggs Benedict and a side Gaufre de Liege, waffle with powdered sugar. The food is spectacular despite the slow service and the long wait. My Croque Madame is cheesy without being too greasy and heavy, the frites are crispy and well seasoned, and my friend’s waffles were fluffy and cakey. The Belgians know what they’re doing when it comes to the waffle and I slightly regret not ordering one for myself. Check out the photo gallery above!
I usually go to the other location in Gramercy, where it’s much roomier and you’re not elbowing your fellow diners all the time. If you want to try Petite Abeille, go to that one, you will have a much better experience with shorter wait time and friendlier staff. The only downside is it’s kind of a trek away from any of the nearest subway lines. Also, I have never been to Petite Abeille for dinner, but I am told they have an all-you-can-eat moules and all-you-can-drink beer night! If their mussels are are as good as their brunch, I am sure to come out smiling! Check out the rest of the menu for their lunch and dinner items.
I’ll include a list of my brunch favorites soon in the Eatings page of Monsieur Jamon.