Il Bastardo epitomizes drunk brunch. You enter the dark room in the back, where techno music begins blasting, neon lights dance on the wall and drinks are refilled constantly. Hoards of friends gather, usually to celebrate a birthday (like in my case), to dance, be silly, and completely forget that it’s only 1pm on a Saturday.
My friends gathered at the birthday boy, Sagar’s, apartment before heading to Chelsea for brunch. A strong word to the wise, drinks are bottomless at Il Bastardo, meaning you will have access to drink more then your fill for 2 hours. Do not drink before, it will result in extreme sloppiness, unless that’s the kind of day you are hoping for.
Shortly after organizing, we hopped into cabs on the rainy Saturday and entered the restaurant. My cab was the first to arrive at 12:58pm. Unlike most drunk brunch restaurants where your 2 hour limit begins when everyone is seated, at Il Bastardo, your time begins at the time you reserved your table. So ours started promptly at 1pm, and would be finished at 3pm, regardless of the time of our arrival.
We were lead to the back of the restaurant, which is the more nightclub environment then the front. 28 of us squeezed into the long table, with everyone arm to arm, trying to find a plastic goblet to fill with either mimosa or bloody Mary. People squeezed into the booth side, and I opted for the chair. It’s the necessary move for easier access to the restroom after bottomless gets the best of you. The waiters came around about 5-10 minutes after we were all seated and the celebrations began.
The mimosa tastes like Andre ($5) Champagne mixed with Cheap OJ, but you hardly notice or really care. When you’re drinking in excess for a fixed price, as long as it’s not diluted, no one seems to notice. After a round and a half of drinks, the group begins to get much more rowdy, as people start to get anxious since they are all cramped in a booth. My friends began to convene in the open space and started to dance on top of the large partition between the upstairs part of the room and the lower leveled area. It’s that kind of a day, and it’s only 1:30pm. An hour and a half to go.
To add to the celebrations, the manager dressed in a suit, comes around with trays of a sweet red liquor in plastic shot glasses. The sweet shots came around a few times, just to make sure everyone has at least one, or multiple in the case of some.
The waiter frantically comes around trying to take everyone’s order and determined where we are seated at the table, despite the fact that everyone has moved around. I’m pretty amazed how efficient they were. It’s obviously not their first time dealing with a rowdy group of drunk twenty-somethings.
I opted to order the eggs Benedict, my simple, go-to brunch dish. A few of my friends went for the more filling options, such as pasta, which graced the Italian menu. About 20-30 minutes later, the food arrived, which seemed like an eternity.
This dish was surprisingly good. The eggs were poached to perfection, with the yolks oozing out. I always complain about how so many places can’t cook a poached egg, and hardly expected to find a great cooked egg at drunk brunch. The hash browns were pretty bland, but great alcohol-induced munchie food.
Most devoured their dishes realizing the alcohol had gotten the best of them. Others neglected their plates all together, opting for a liquid diet.
The great thing about drunk brunch is the prix fix billing. It allows for everyone to split the meal evenly, without the traditional fights that come from large group dining. Il Bastardo is not cheap, with the total coming to $51 per person. But for bottomless drinks, a surprisingly good plate of eggs, and a very happy birthday boy, it was a great day activity. Plus, think of all the saved cab money for day festivities and the ability to take the subway home.
So if you are in the mood for a crazy afternoon, and the inability to go out that night (yes, I’m getting old — and House of Cards is awesome), then Il Bastardo is the spot for you. It’s perfect for big groups, fun times and a sloppy day of celebrations.
So, Cheers to the Greatness that is Drunk Brunch!
Il Bastardo – 191 7th Avenue – New York, NY