I’d been hearing rumors of a new restaurant. It would be a magical land Manhattannites had only ever dreamed of where brunch never ended. None of this Sunday-maybe-we’ll-give-you-Saturday-but-that’s-it business. All week long. Nothing but brunch. Refreshing. But delays upon delays, it seemed to be an urban foodie myth until voilà! Out of nowhere, an opening date was set for the restaurant, Permanent Brunch, and it was definitely time for a visit.
I’d originally wanted to visit at brunch time on Friday, as part of the allure of the restaurant (to me) is brunch on your schedule. I was bummed to see no daytime hours on their schedule during the week. Only the weekend. How, dare I say, standard. But no worries, as I was still very curious. They are open until 11:30PM Monday through Wednesday and Sunday or until 3am on Thursday through Saturday.
When we arrived around 12:45pm on a Sunday afternoon, we were walking into prime brunch time. There was naturally a line out the door, but it was manageable (even moreso after some caffeine courtesy of the Dunkin’ Donuts located diagonally from Permanent Brunch). The hostess was cheerful but I’ll admit it drove me a little nuts when there was no ballpark given on wait time. The verdict? It ended up being about 45 minutes. Not too bad, all things considered.
Their menu features a variety of different bacons to sample and also offers several variations on the classic Bloody Mary. Each day they also offer a specialty cocktail (Sunday it involved gin and grapefruit juice, among other ingredients), a specific type if preserves to accompany their biscuit (strawberry rhubarb for us), and a doughnut of the day (this day’s feature was lightly filled with ricotta).
I was intrigued by the ham and cheese stuffed French Toast, as the combination of ingredients sounded like it could be fabulous or one hot mess. I’ll admit I tend to migrate towards the sweeter options and this sounded like it might be a nice alternative on the saltier side. It included a spread of Five Spoke Creamery’s Tumbleweed, Vermont Smoked Ham, all lightly topped off with a drizzle of dijon-maple. The maple along with the butter and egg of the French Toast added a subtle hint of sweet, but didn’t overpower the dijon, the cheese, nor the slightly salty ham. I think this combination is a winner! And, to boot, it was hearty enough to suffice as a meal for the day. Can’t beat that value. It came served with steamed asparagus, which I wasn’t quite ready for with the meal but couldn’t think of a better alternative to include with the dish. It made for nice presentation though.
My friend went with the buttermilk pancakes, which came topped with fresh cherries, crème fraîche, and Vermont maple syrup. I was a big fan of the crème fraîche, which perfectly landed somewhere between a fluffy whipped butter and whipped cream. The maple syrup wasn’t quite as sweet as I typically encounter, which in this case was a good thing. These were some of the best pancakes I’ve had in a while. Only thing which would have made it better would be a nice sausage patty, but that’s the Southerner coming out there!
We ended up also opting to split the biscuit. The plan had been for it to be our appetizer of sorts as we’d asked for it to come out first. Instead it came out last. Perhaps it was set up for failure. It wasn’t bad by any means, but the biscuit didn’t really stand out. The strawberry rhubarb preserves saved it a bit though – adding just the right degree of sweetness. Instead next time I’d opt for the doughnut of the day, which I continually enviously eyed throughout our meal as it passed by. I’d thought from the menu that it would be a single massive doughnut but instead, it’s about 6 poofy doughnut rounds that come out served in a bowl, much akin to the presentation at Stanton Social.
The timing of the order seemed to be part of working through the kinks of a new establishment, and being in the East Village they’re bound to get plenty of exposure to push them through that stage quickly. I was impressed by the unique things they’ve got planned for the restaurant in the near future. One is a virtual hostess whereby you can check in electronically and leave your information for the restaurant to reach you. There’s a large display board which will correspondingly display the names in order. Love it. No more asking where you are on the magic list. The second is something they’ve got somewhat up and running, where patrons with iPhones can log into the restaurant’s network and share their music. Very nice.
I’ll give them a little more time to settle in before making visit number two, but I’ll definitely be back. Next time I’ll be sure to conquer the doughnuts and figure out that fancy virtual DJ thing they’ve got going on.
Permanent Brunch – 95 First Avenue (between 5th & 6th Streets) – 212.533.3315
No reservations. Off-peak visits recommended to avoid crowds.