Sometimes you find the best places just by accident. This morning was a prime example of this experience. We stumbled into Cobble Hill, Brooklyn and down Smith Street with the help of Yelp. Ultimately we decided upon Cafe Luluc, a simple French Bistro. Little did we realize some of their food would top our list of “Best Thing I Ever Ate.”
We entered the restaurant and were immediately given the warmest welcome. The adorable waitress, with a little accent revealing her Hungarian roots, seemed almost apologetic in asking us to wait 5-10 minutes for a table inside away from the unbearably humid day. They have an gorgeous, very Brooklyn backyard garden. On this particular day, air conditioning was the way to go. We sat down at the bar waiting for our table to become ready.
I felt as if we had discovered a hidden local gem. Many tables had girls sitting solo, reading a book, sipping on ice tea or sangria, and enjoying the atmosphere of the restaurant. It really seemed like a place you would frequent, if you lived in the neighborhood and the waiter would just know your regular order and beverage the second you walked in. It’s a wonderful atmosphere to feel immediately welcomed into their secret bistro.
Their hand written chalkboard boasted patron’s favorite dishes, along with daily specials. One of the cutest features of this restaurant is their “Drunch,” a great idea for those early afternoon, weekday meals. But for today, it was all about brunch. And more specifically, all about pancakes.
Now I’m not usually a pancake person. Brunch is all about the eggs and potatoes for me, with the occasional granola. But the customer favorites and Yelp reviews raved about these pancakes in a way I have rarely seen on the bloggosphere.
Our family decided to do a full table sharing. My mom ordered the heavenly pancakes with fresh fruit and maple syrup. I went for the poached eggs and gravlax salmon on an English muffin with hollandaise. My dad decided on the grilled chicken sandwich. Leigh ordered the grilled vegetable sandwich with goat cheese.
Our dishes came out and we were immediately drooling over the size and fluffiness of the pancakes. At first sight, it was confirmed that these were extraordinary.
We all were given little bites of pancakes. I decided to try without the maple syrup to start. Saying these were delicious is not giving it enough justice. The outside of the pancake was crispy, with the inside being light and fluffy. The chef achieves the crispy texture from a pan made specifically for pancake making. This smaller pan allows for the ideal crispy edge of the pan crust without sacrificing the light interior. They are just to die for. The maple syrup adds the ideal element of sweetness along with the fresh fruit. It was out of this world.
My completely delicious dish was wonderful on a very different level.
The light flavor of the poached eggs and salty salmon, along with the flavorful hollandaise sauce combined together to create a delicious eggs Benedict. The tangy sauce on the side added that essential element bringing the entire dish together. Breaking open the eggs, the yolk covered the salmon and English muffin and mixed with the hollandaise sauce to allow an innate richness to the dish. The light salad on the side, dressed extremely lightly, gave that fresh bite to contrast with the heavy eggs. The crispy fries on the side gave the feeling of breakfast potatoes but lunch style.
My dad’s chicken sandwich was absolutely delicious and elevated the typical dish to a new level.
With my first bite, the flavors tasted like a high end Caesar salad sandwich. The crunch of the bread and flavors from the cheese and vinaigrette were light and summery. The fresh avocado gave the richness of flavor needed for the dish. I usually steer clear of grilled chicken sandwiches, with most being dry and flavorless. This was the complete opposite. The moist chicken and combination of ingredients elevated a typically bland dish to one bursting with complex flavors. All of the necessary components made up this dish, with vegetables, protein, cheese and bread, making it something I would come back to Brooklyn to pack up for lunch. It was just a smart and unusual twist on a chicken sandwich. I would love to try and replicate this at home, but it will not nearly be as great.
Leigh’s wonderful grilled vegetable sandwich rounded out the whole meal.
The sandwich was wonderfully complex on so many levels. Leigh claimed it seemed like something easily made at home, but I beg to differ. The combination of all of the vegetables merged together without having one significantly overpower the other. I’m not exactly sure how that was achieved with all of the ingredients. The pesto acted as the main star, binding the entire dish together. The subtle tangy goat cheese gave that necessary element to the sandwich. The crunchy, fresh and lightly toasted ciabatta bread served as the perfect vehicle for vegetable delight.
We left the meal extremely happy. One note, the place is cash only so be sure to come prepared. However, the meal proves to be relatively inexpensive, especially for brunch standards in the city. The food was delicious and we kept talking about the pancakes for hours after. My mom desperately tried to find a copycat recipe and/or get the low down from the waitress, but success was limited. The sandwiches were some I would quickly devour any day of the week for lunch and the eggs were a playful spin on traditional eggs Benedict. All in all, this was a wonderful find.
As a Brooklyn native, my Dad is always fascinated to come back and see the transformation. Plus, he’s loving how us kids think “it’s kind of cool he grew up here.” We will definitely be back for some more Brooklyn culinary adventures.
Cafe Luluc – 214 Smith Street – Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
Location: Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, NY
Type: American (Traditional)
Perfect For: Chronic Brunch, Big Groups, Outdoor Seating, Neighborhood Hang
Reservations: Not Available
Favorite Dishes: Pancakes