Brunch is the most honest meal of the week. Everyone is hungover. It’s perfectly acceptable to wear sunglasses indoors. It’s completely normal to have four different beverages in front of you – coffee (obvs), juice (vitamins!), water (hydration is really important) and a Bloody Mary (because brunch.) Brunch-goers range from hungover to haven’t gone to bed yet to people who have already gone for a morning run. And New York, as far as I can tell, celebrates brunch like no other city. (Remember a few years ago when they tried to outlaw the bottomless brunches? Hah. That was short-lived.)
If you walk along Houston on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, you’ll walk past dozens of restaurants boasting excellent brunch options. Do yourself a favor, try brunch at The Late Late Bar. (You can’t miss it. There’s a DJ in the window!) The decor looks like a Victorian Irish pub, with wooden banquettes and velvet cushions. It’s dark and shabby-chic, and I absolutely loved it. (There’s even a shelf with Irish snacks and goods that they sell.) It’s dark inside there, though, so it takes a few to adjust to the darkness.
We started with a Mimosa (made with fresh-squeezed orange juice — yum) and a Ballymaloe Bloody Mary. (What’s a Ballymaloe? Glad you asked. It’s an Irish jalapeño.) The jalapeño gave it a really nice spice, along with the chili-salt rim, and the garnish was unparalleled — three slices of pickle and a piece of bacon. Pretty much anything that comes with bacon gets an “A+” in my book.
The brunch menu isn’t particularly extensive, but what they offer is delicious. There’s a burger, steak and eggs, and a full Irish breakfast option. My friend and I forewent all of these in favor of the Ricotta Toast, French Toast, Avocado Toast, sausage and Bacon.
I’m not a huge fan of sweet breakfast foods. Or sweet foods in general. I have the opposite of a sweet tooth. (A salt tooth?) But the French Toast at The Late Late is one of the best things I have ever tasted. Not as decadent nor sweet as it first appears, the toast itself is perfectly prepared (not too eggy), and the fresh berries add a delicious tartness. Instead of a sweetened butter, it was served with a Jameson Honey Butter that was just wonderful. I was surprised and really pleased.
The Avocado Toast was another excellent choice. It’s surprisingly spicy, so be prepared for that, and very citrusy. The toast is finished with slices of radish, which add a nice crunch to a softer dish. It was essentially the opposite flavor profile of the French Toast, which was a nice contrast.
We finished with Ricotta Toast. This was my favorite of our options. Served with an actual piece of local honeycomb, and drizzled with honey, it sounds like it should be sweet. But instead, they’ve flavored it with black pepper, salt, and thyme, and finished the whole thing with olive oil. The flavor was beautifully balanced.
All in all, I was really happy with my experience at The Late Late. I highly recommend trying their brunch – (which can be made bottomless for only $15!) For more from my time at The Late Late Bar, follow me on Instagram @whitneygentile or use the hashtag #manhattandigest. And for more information on The Late Late, check out their official site. Happy dining!