Picture This: fashion forecasting coordinator and political nerd out for brunch, standing at the bar waiting for their table to be set up. Michael Kors whizzes past wearing dark sunglasses, a black jacket and light jeans, snagging our table and forcing us to wait a few minutes longer. Just as we begin to make our way towards the host stand to inquire about our now extended wait time, two secret service agents walk inside. The host runs in a panic, rearranging the entire restaurant, escorting individuals from the back secluded area of the restaurant to the open front. In walks House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi holding the hands of her two adorable grandchildren. The group is immediately escorted towards the back of the restaurant, with the one of the most powerful women in the U.S. sandwiched between her tough looking security detail.
Twenty minutes later, political junkie and fashionista are lead towards the back, seated at their table adjacent to Michael Kors, shaking, giggling and in desperate need of a drink.
Never in a million years did Rachel and I think that a brunch at Café Cluny in the West Village would result in both of our dream celeb sightings. The restaurant is adorable, extremely bright and exactly the type of place you picture for brunching in the village. No wonder the high end types enjoy to dine in this establishment.
We quickly glanced over the menu with the Short Rib Hash immediately catching our eyes. I have a total weakness for hash, which combines meat, eggs and potatoes into one delicious bowl. Both of us ordered this dish, sipped our respective Bloody Mary and mimosa, enjoying the atmosphere and time to catch up.
The service is relatively quick, a stark contrast from our seating debacle. The hash is the epitome of #foodporn with the glistening béarnaise sauce coating two perfectly poached eggs.
One gentle stroke of the knife and the yolk oozes over the shredded short ribs and silky potatoes. The entire hash seems to have been cooked in a wide pan and flipped, giving a crispy exterior to to both the top and bottom. The hash strikes an ideal balance of salty, sweet and decadent, without seemingly overly heavy. The short ribs are cooked perfectly and pulled apart, tossed with similar sized pieces of potato. The addition of scallions gives a little bitter bite that further allows for the hash to be on the lighter side. It’s a classier version of any corned beef hash and to die for.
After finishing one poached egg and half of the hash, the waitress brought over a thimble of Sriracha for Rachel and a tiny bottle of Tabasco for me. The spiciness completely enhanced the dish, with the spice filling your senses and elevating the sweet and saltiness. I rarely finish dishes of this size and nature, but found myself actually liking the plate clean.
We devoured our dishes, loving the environment and our food. We decided it was a ‘Treat Yo Self’ kind of a day, taking the time to actually look at the dessert menu. But before deciding on a sweet, cocktails were selected first.
Fresh ginger adds a spicy heat to cocktails that cannot be replicated. The gin, bitter grapefruit and fresh basil combines to create a refreshing cocktail that’s slightly off the beaten path. It’s seems simple enough to recreate and I would love to make this for friends at a cocktail party; just fresh and delicious.
After much debate, we decided the caramelized banana trifle with vanilla wafer pudding was the winner.
The brûléed banana stole the show, with the pile of vanilla wafer pudding hiding the crumbled, sweet cookies underneath. As your spoon digs deeper, you uncover the more delightful parts of the dessert. It’s a nice spin on the traditional English treat.
We settled into our seats full to our utter satisfaction and requested the bill. To sweeten the payment part of the meal, pieces of a dark, raspberry chocolate are adjacent to the check on a little wooden tray.
Café Cluny epitomizes everything New Yorkers love about brunch; delicious, slightly different dishes, cocktails and a little celebrity. We both already plotted our next trip back, although we figure that any time we return will be slightly less exciting then our extreme ordeal. But even without the waits caused by people far more important than ourselves, the food alone was incredible, service pleasant and cocktails delicious. Add this to your West Village brunch list immediately, wait in line and mentally prepare yourself for an amazing meal. And oh yeah, keep your eyes open for the celebs.
Café Cluny – 284 West 12th Street – New York, NY
Location: West Village, NY
Type: American (Traditional)
Perfect For: Chronic Brunch, Celebrity Sightings, First Dates, Casual Meal
Reservations: Not Accepted for Brunch
Favorite Dishes: Short Rib Hash, Bacon Cheese Burger