Springtime is here, and with it comes the loosening of a general wintry glut. The time for lighter fare, intense and robust herbs combined with the addition of fruits and vegetables in season makes the spring a wonderful time of year.
Nearing the end of our journey down food haven lane, it is time for a smaller, lesser-known restaurant. My “hidden gem” of the Manhattan restaurant offering and our first look at the blessedness that is brunch, our bi-weekly journey is to a secret world just off Poyntz Ave.
For brunch, I headed to The Chef. Located just off Poyntz on 4th St., The Chef is a small restaurant full of passion and flair. The only word that can truly capture the atmosphere of this little eatery is ‘sassy’. A lively hint of delicious music warms the soul while the smells emanating from the open kitchen invigorate the appetite.
In order to truly sum up this experience, it is necessary to fully grasp the wonderment of brunch. Getting to sleep in is inspiring for most and leaves us somewhere in the mid-morning and early afternoon gap. This time frame presents a new problem after a long night of carrying on in the Little Apple — breakfast or lunch?
For those of us too kind to choose, we simply take both. With the delicious and soul-warming morning delicacies mixed with the spicy touch of lunch, we are led to this promise land and admired day-date that is brunch.
Luckily, we were seated within minutes and found ourselves staring down the menu. A unique feature of The Chef the restaurant must be given credit for is its wonderful hosting ability with which it provides drinks for customers in waiting. Compelled to stick around for the continuation of such service, patrons enjoy their beverage of choice and take in the bustling atmosphere.
Surrounding the walls covered in airy blue and yellow are windows with clouds and a lovely feeling of belonging. Combined with the hip music flowing from the ceiling, one can truly just sit and soak up the love The Chef has created for its dining experience.
The menu itself is truly creative. It ranges from a la carte items, for adding to others or for the less hungry, to truly heroic portions such as “The Chuck Norris,” which is made up of incredibly large platter size pancakes and three burger-sized sausage patties of spice and appeal.
To start off with a drink at the Chef is not such an average task.
The menu consists of a number of early starting beverages that will pack more of a punch than a usual morning cup of joe. From “Manmosas” containing beer and orange juice, to the fresh and fruity Chef Sunrise with vodka, orange juice and a splash of pomegranate, each option is thoughtfully concocted to adorn meals.
Because it was brunch, we ordered a pair of entrees to feast upon: the Smothered Breakfast Burrito and the Grilled Chicken Club sandwich.
In addition to the massive portion of food, they also give you a potato of choice. The hash browns are classic and delicious, while the home-style potatoes are fried slices that are covered in pepper and spice, and a tinge of heat sits in the back of your mouth as you eat.
For the breakfast side in me, we try the burrito. A rather large tortilla filled with light scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, two kinds of cheese and topped with their own special gravy. If the taste of the burrito alone doesn’t get you, it’s the gravy that really seals the deal. It is a thin yet wholesome flavor that really makes breakfast what it is, The Chef has the nail on its gravy recipe. They utilize a delicious blend of sausages at The Chef, and I can only imagine this gravy gets its pure beauty from being cooked up with them.
Giving in to our lunchtime palate, we also chose the sandwich. This behemoth of a club sandwich fills its Texas Toast top and bottom with marinated chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, swiss cheese, mustard, mayo and a generous slice of ham. By generous, I do mean it’s a steak. The pile of meat and accompaniment are more than their toasty counterpart can contain usually, so it’s a good idea to keep that fork around.
To round off this meal, or any simple stop at The Chef, you must never look past the simpler things in life. Warm, homemade strawberry jam. For a mere 75 cents, they give you two slices of toast and the best jam ever. So sweet, yet savory, this jam could make an entire visit to The Chef worthwhile. I would take this jam over any food in the house, and for the price, can you go wrong?
A major concern upon arrival at The Chef is the time of day. Finding a time that is less packed will ensure a better visit. A very busy little secret, this restaurant is generally crowded and the line continues out the door. Yet I assure you, oh vigorous food taster, the wait is worth the while.