There is a saying that “God is in the details.” Manhattanites can certainly find tasty Sunday brunch specials in any neighborhood on the island, but if you’re looking for delicious food that’s enhanced by subtle details such as fresh flowers on the table, a cup of coffee that includes your own individual French press, or a chill music mix of flamenco and Bossa Nova to soundtrack your meal, then Pera, on Thompson Street in Soho, is a destination to add to your list.
The brunch menu at Pera offers a mix of Mediterranean dishes and traditional brunch plates. There’s also a prix-fixe that includes a brunch cocktail or fresh juice of your choice, a main plate and coffee or tea for $21. But it’s the little touches that add a civilized feel here in the urban jungle. If it’s a sunny day, opt for a table at one of the spacious, comfy booths at the front of the restaurant in the bar area, which will give you not only a great view of the entire restaurant, but also provides an ideal spot for people watching.
It isn’t really brunch without a cocktail, is it? We selected a refreshing Peach Margarita on the rocks (all brunch cocktails are $7) to enjoy sipping as we perused the eclectic menu.
We started with an appetizer of the Eggplant “Kofte” Croquettes ($9). This house specialty consists of ground eggplant balls lightly breaded and deep-fried to resemble something like a fritter stuffed with baba ganoush. The creamy eggplant center is a nice contrast of textures and tastes with the light, crunchy breading. We were also intrigued by the description of the Spicy Muammara with Chickpea Chips ($9). This dish was described to us as being a Roasted Pepper and Walnut Paste flavored with Marinara, which sounds adventurous. Next time!
My dining companion and decided to order one sweet dish and one savory dish and share them. We had been reading about Pera’s White Chocolate Chip Pancakes for weeks and were extremely keen on ordering them, but were disappointed to learn that we had been looking at an outdated menu! As a consolation, we ordered traditional Buttermilk Pancakes with Strawberry Butter ($14). We are constantly on a quest to find the perfect pancakes at brunch spots in Manhattan, and these certainly rate for being moist and cake-like, while managing to be completely done in the center (you would not believe how hard it is to find a well-done pancake in Manhattan. Even IHOP can’t get it right).
The three fluffy cakes are served with fresh berries and sprinkled with powdered sugar with maple syrup on the side. Unfortunately, the promised Strawberry Butter did not manage to make it onto the plate, and although we suspected something was “missing,” we were not able to figure out what it was until we had left the restaurant. This was very disappointing, because we suspect that the Strawberry Butter would have elevated this dish to a sublime deliciousness.
For our savory choice we selected the Oven-Baked Eggs ($14) served on top of a Green Olive-Studded Parmesan Polenta Cake, with melted Sharp Cheddar and accompanied by a generous amount of tender steamed Kale. There are few healthy foods that are as trending right now as Kale, and this was cooked to perfection, bringing out a sweet taste and eliminating any trace of bitterness. The Baked Eggs dish is easily large enough to share, and we would just offer a reminder that the eggs are served with a runny yolk (think: poached), so if you prefer your eggs well done, be sure to specify that when ordering.
We also added a side of Pera’s House Made Chicken Sausage ($6); a lean and mildly seasoned sausage with a texture that is very similar to traditional Merguez (lamb) sausage. The sausage perfectly complemented both our sweet and savory brunch dishes.
Shortly after 1:00 PM, a house DJ sets up in the bar area to provide her own mix of tunes, which is a nice addition to the atmosphere.
Pera is spacious establishment with a large, intimate dining room at the rear, a separate private room for parties also located adjacent to the bar and a massive outdoor patio. Once the weather warms up, we can imagine that Pera’s outdoor seating area will be packed, especially on the weekends. We left Pera feeling satisfied, relaxed and ready to enjoy a leisurely post-Brunch stroll and a bit of window-shopping in this beautiful neighborhood.