Brunch Tour: Freeman’s

One of the best things about NYC is the cuisine…duh.  But when there are no shortages of the best of the best in that department, that is a food connoisseur’s dream.  If you live here for any length of time, you quickly find out that NY knows how to do brunch.  So Tara and I have embarked on a brunch tour where every Saturday for the last few weeks, we’ve checked out a different place.  This post is a review of our favorite brunch spot (so far) – Freeman’s.

It was a Saturday in February, the morning of my 35th birthday to be exact, and we had a good friend of Tara’s in town.  We were going to take her to what was our favorite brunch spot in the City, Peels.  But there was something in me that just wanted to venture out and try something different and since it was my birthday, Tara had me pick the place.  So I went to Yelp, Open Table, Immaculate Infatuation and then looked to a few local friend’s blogs.  After seeing it on my friend Gracie Gordon’s blog, I decided to give Freeman’s a try.

The first thing I loved about this place was that it’s definitely a “locals” kind of place.  It’s not an eatery the  tourists would find…or find very easily.  The address is 191 Chrystie Street.  However, when you go to Chrystie Street, it’s not there.  The street numbers on the buildings aren’t shown, so the building where Google said it was had a “For Lease” sign and a “D” rating sheet in the window.  Tara started cursing my name as it was a rainy morning, we had to take the subway a few more stops than we usually go, and we were all pretty hungry. I couldn’t believe it was closed because the latest review was literally just a few days  ago.  I called the restaurant and of course it was an automated message but when giving directions, they said it was in “Freeman’s Alley”.  This was certainly no alley. So we went around the corner and I saw a sign for the restaurant next to the  alley. I thought there was no way a restaurant could be there but low and behold there it was.
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We got there at 10:30AM which is well before the NY’ers typically start brunch.  It gets busy around 12:30PM and stays that way until about 2 or 3PM.  It looked to be a house turned into a restaurant and was much bigger on the inside than it appeared from the outside.  They have a private room upstairs (which was actually hosting a wedding brunch when we arrived) and then plenty of little rooms throughout the downstairs area.  We got sat near the bar.  The décor was very rustic – it was a cross between a cabin feel (tons of animal heads on the wall) and a country barn.
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The brunch menu looked amazing!!  We started with mimosas/hibiscuses, coffee and then split a stack of roasted pear pancakes with whipped cream.  The pear was in the pancake dough…unbelievably good.  Loved the old school syrup bottle.
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For my entrée, I ordered the skillet eggs, bacon, spinach and gruyere buttered sourdough toast.  Pretty much anything served in a skillet is bound to be amazing.  This dish did not disappoint.  The cheese in the eggs was incredible.
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Tara went with the roasted root vegetable & mushroom that is served with two fried eggs, herbed crème fraiche and fried corn cake.  It looked scrumptious.  She had zero complaints about her dish!
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Leah (T’s friend from Alabama who was visiting) got the scrambled eggs with roasted potatoes and thick-cut bacon.  She loved it.  Unfortunately, I did not snap a pic of that one!

I had read that the stone-ground cheddar cheese grits were killer so we ordered that as a side that we all shared.  Tara and Leah were skeptical because who does grits well in the northeast?  Not many.  But these were phenomenal (and that’s coming from a guy who is not a grits fan)!  Again, the cheese they used (the same cheese used in my skillet dish) was to die for.
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The only thing we missed out on was the hot artichoke dip.  I read about how good that was after we had already eaten but there’s always next time.  I’d rank this place as my favorite brunch spot so far in NYC and we will definitely be back!

Brian Approved: Downton Abbey

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So I had been hearing about Downton Abbey for a while (especially after this year’s Golden Globes) but never had the time or really the desire to check it out.  How many tv drama series are really worth watching these days?  Well, that all changed for me after viewing the 1st episode of this show. I was actually about to start my travel/event season and wanted to start using the video feature of my Kindle Fire HD.  One of the perks of Amazon Prime is that you can stream movies and certain TV shows for free.  So after streaming the first episode, I proceeded to download the first 2 seasons before I got back from my first trip.  I just got completely caught up and finished season 3.  Even Tara is hooked.  She had a separate flight the same weekend and texted me as soon as she landed that she’s now a Downton fan.

What makes this show so compelling?  For starters (without giving away any of the storylines), the cinematography is incredible.  Based in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey, the shots of England are just amazing.  Add to that multiple storylines, great twists, and phenomenal acting and you’ve got a recipe for a show that is a “can’t miss”.  I’m not a fan of the heavy accents that typical British shows seem to have.  This show has a slight accent with most of the actors/actresses (to be expected) but not enough to turn you off and/or miss funny punch lines.

I’ve been told that Sherlock (also a PBS aired show) is a great series to check out as well.  That’s next on my list.  Get on the Downton train ASAP.  You won’t be disappointed.  For those that have seen all three seasons of Downton, you’ll totally understand this next statement.  My biggest takeaways so far is that you should never have kids and the way Edith feels at Downton is the way I feel at McDonald’s: Judged 😉