If I could name only one person whom I’ve most enjoyed meeting and getting to know since I started writing about the New York City contemporary art scene, it would be Mark Kostabi. Mark is not only an extraordinarily talented artist and musician, but he’s also one of the nicest and most generous people I can name. On a day that is currently also memorable for being the day after the warmest day of the year so far, Mark hosted a wildly fun Jazz Art Brunch at the Dillon Gallery in Chelsea, where everybody listened to awesome live music, shared their art, ate, drank and had a great time! It was an ideal opportunity to meet up and hang out with friends that you normally only get to see on FaceBook!
Mark’s Brother, Musician and Artist Paul Kostabi Poses with his Signature Creation, “Sparkl”
Paul and Mark Kostabi Prep for the Show
Part of the inspiration for the event was to give Mark and his band the chance to warm up in front of a live audience prior to their upcoming set at the release party for their CD, Kostabeat, held at the Cutting Room a few days later. Here are a few of our favorite photos from the day!
Check out this delicious Brunch Buffet (courtesy of Sullivan Street Bakery) featuring all of my favorite carbs!
At the brunch we were also introduced to a tasty beverage, Maven Cocktails, which is a blend of premium wine infused with top shelf vodka – my two favorite beverages of choice! Maven tastes amazing and comes in a lovely resealable glass bottle – classy! I was very partial to the Pinot Noir blend but white wine fans can also enjoy a Chardonnay variety! Maven Cocktails, FTW!
Art By Mark Kostabi and Paul Kostabi
L to R Paul Kostabi, Keith LeBlanc, Paul Nowinski, Mollie Israel, Tony Esposito, Mark Kostabi
In this photo, the band performs the sublime “Spoleto Dream” from Kostabeat, which is an excellent album.
Paul Nowinski also plays with Keith Richards and he is a phenomenal bass player!
Here’s better photo of Mollie, a lovely and talented lady!
The multi-talented Tony Esposito is an accomplished percussionist, arranger, composer and producer who is Mark’s creative partner in the Kostabeat experience.
Always the gracious host, Mark invited several guest musicians to sit in with the band or perform solo.
Multi-instrumentalist Scott Putesky performed a compelling ballad arrangement of The Pixes’ “Wave Of Mutilation,” which is one of my favorites. Scott is perhaps best known in Pop Culture Legend as Daisy Berkowitz, former guitarist for the classic, Portrait of an American Family-era of Marilyn Manson — a band that was certainly a force to be reckoned with in its prime.
Scott is also a fine artist who creates intriguing modern abstracts, such as the work above. Fascinating.
I’m not sure who this drummer is, but he was just adorable, and a serious badass on the kit!
Thanks again to Mark Kostabi and his super cool assistant, Heidi Follin, for making it a great day for everyone!
“Cheers!” (Above and All Interior Photos By Gail, Food Photos By Anne Raso)
Here at The Worley Gig, we like to have nice things – because you only live once, as the kids are fond of saying. If you, too, enjoy the finer things in life, and are also a fan of the Boozy Brunch, let me tell you about what I believe to easily be the Best Brunch in Manhattan, and that is the newly re-launched Champagne Brunch at Beauty & Essex. A week has passed since our visit and we just cannot shut up about the delicious food and great service we experienced at this elegant and hip hot spot lighting up the Lower East side.
Beauty & Essex is a place to go when you want to feel like a Superstar. Separated from the street by a cool storefront Pawn Shop, the restaurant’s interior is simply stunning, with antique accents and amazing light fixtures including a dazzling crystal chandelier that extends from the ceiling all the way to the first floor.
Although a full (and very extensive) brunch menu is available, we chose to go with the Chef’s Choice Prix Fixe Menu; a 4 course meal which offers you a generous taste of eight different dishes as well as two glasses of Moet & Chandon Brut Champagne for the bargain price of just $45 per person. Let’s Eat!
(Note: Since dishes are served family style and portioned for the number of people in your party, keep in mind that the portions shown in these photos are meant to serve two people).
Your “Brunch Party” – which is what we are calling it – starts out with your friendly server asking if you have any dietary restrictions or requests, as Beauty & Essex will happily modify any dishes to accommodate vegetarian or gluten free diets, or any food allergies where possible. And then, the food just starts coming out to your table – and what a sumptuous feast it is!
The first course consists of Red Velvet Waffles with Cream Cheese Icing ($12 a la carte). These 4-inch diameter waffles arrived piping hot and freshly made from the waffle iron, crispy on the outside an tender/ fluffy on the inside. There is no need for butter or syrup as the cream cheese icing drizzle adds the perfect additional decadence.
Miniature Dark Chocolate Croissants ($9 a la carte) — flakey and buttery pastry stuffed with rich dark chocolate — are also part of your sweet first course.
Should you feel any pangs of guilt from your “Dessert for Breakfast” course, redemption in the form of a fresh chopped Kale & Apple Salad ($12 a la carte) arrives next as part of your second course. Dressed lightly in a tart Apple Cider Vinaigrette, tender Kale and Slivered Green Apple are tossed with Candied Pecans, Crispy Pancetta and Shaved Goat Cheese in this light and healthy dish. It is understood that kale is a food that often strikes fear in the heart of the foodie, but be assured that there is no trace of bitterness anywhere.
Because Soup and Salad go together, course two also includes Grilled Cheese, Smoked Bacon and Tomato Soup Dumplings ($16 a la carte). Despite being described as “Soup Dumplings,” what you are really getting are Gilled Cheese and Smoked Bacon Dumplings (think: Dim Sum) resting atop a puddle of roasted tomato soup. Semantics aside, this dish is delish!
Oh my, are you full already? Well, better make some room in your tummy, because it’s time for course three, and you won’t want to miss a bite of what Beauty & Essex has in store. Check out these Fried Chicken Biscuit Bites ($14 a la carte): a crispy fried morsel of chicken breast on a buttery homemade biscuit, topped with crunchy, tangy Red Cabbage Slaw. A ramekin of Tabasco Honey Butter is also present for spreading meltily (made up word) onto the hot biscuit. So simple, yet so sublime.
At this point in the meal, our server made the rounds, bestowing a gift to all diners of these colorful, flashy light-up disco rings! Par-tay Brunch in the house! The only thing more exciting than these rings was the fact that there was still more delicious food to eat! See for yourself!
Look! It’s Braised Short Rib Huevos Rancheros: a perfectly cooked sunny side up egg is layered on top of tender short rib and black bean puree on a crisp corn tortilla, resting in a tomato ranchero sauce, and topped with Mexican Cotija Cheese. Ole!
Course three is rounded out with a huge serving of savory Skillet Roasted Potatoes with roasted peppers and herbed sea salt seasoning. Don’t explode yet, because dessert is coming.
This gorgeous thing is called a Caramel Mousse Bombe, and it is just insane. Inside this spherical chocolate shell is a light and fluffy caramel mousse on a chewy caramel cookie base. It is hard not to completely devour the Bombe, even when you have just eaten all of the food on the planet.
As you can see by this visual culinary journey we have just taken together, the Beauty & Essex Chef’s Choice Prix Fixe Brunch is a lot of food for a ridiculously reasonable price. And even though the menu says it includes “Two Glasses” of champagne, our glasses were topped off regularly and I don’t think anyone was really keeping too close of an eye on it, if you get what I’m saying.
Beauty & Essex is located at 146 Essex Street (F train to Essex & Delancey), New York, NY 10002. Brunch is served on the second floor from 1 – 6 PM. Phone (212) 614-0146 for more information, visit Beauty and Essex Dot Com for Menus and Visit Open Table to make a reservation at This link.
Oh MLK Day, I took myself out to the “Weekend Brunch” at 7A — my favorite local Brunch spot and a restaurant I’ve frequented for the twenty years that I’ve lived in this neigborhood. The word is out now that 7A — cleverly named for its location on the corner of Seventh Street and Avenue A — will shut its doors for good at the end of January. My waitress told me that the owner is moving to California and just wants to sell the property off and be done with it. And that’s just shame, because 7A was the best.
When I first moved to the East Village and didn’t know many people, I hung out a lot by myself. One of my favorite things to do in those years was to visit 7A on the weekends for their delicious brunch, sit at a table by one of the windows and just watch people walk by. You could not buy better entertainment than that. But 7A has always been about so much more that good Freak Watching. The prices were always very reasonable, the food excellent (their guacamole-laden Mexican Burgers featured better ground beef than you find in most steak houses) and plentiful (I never left hungry) and the service friendly and efficient. 7A was a colorful local hangout where you could just be yourself.
7A was, out of necessity, renovated and redesigned a couple of times over the past two decades, but it never lost its character.
This is the massive meal I had for Brunch on my recent, and perhaps final, visit. A California Omelet stuffed with refried beans, cheese and tomatoes and topped with their delicious homemade guacamole, accompanied by Green Salad, Crispy Home-fried Potatoes and Seven Grain Toast. Brunch also included Coffee or Tea and a Cocktail (In this photo, I am about to enjoy a Screwdriver, which, as you can see, is tall enough to get you buzzed). This feast costs only $14.95, which means that with tax and generous tip you get more food than you can barely stuff in your face for about $20. What a bargain!
With the way things come and go in NYC and the rate at which landmarks and beloved establishments are being swept aside to be replaced by another fucking Starbucks, sentimentality is, perhaps not surprisingly, in short supply around here. Because you just can’t afford to get too attached to anything anymore. And while the loss of 7A is hardly as emotionally and culturally devastating as the closing of The Kiev, I will miss it.
I’m not sure what 7A’s final day of business will be (the 31st is a Thursday) but you might have time to grab one more famous Weekend Brunch if you step on it. Goodbye 7A and thanks for all the memories. I hope your staff finds good new employment!
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.
This Cool Mural, Painted by Artist Jamie Heff from a Photograph by Haluk Harman, by covers the Rear Wall of Pera’s Main Dining Room
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.
Pera Soho is Located at 54 Thompson Street, Between Spring and Broome, in NYC. Weekend Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
Ah, weekend Brunch in NYC. It’s a continuously evolving hot topic that keeps all of the Yelp reviewers on their toes! We love the funky East Village brunch scene, but sometimes we like to put on our fancy shoes and check out what’s going on a little further uptown. This past summer, we enjoyed a magical rooftop evening of unique and hearty appetizers, tall cool cocktails and stunning city views at the Penthouse level restaurant, Upstairs at the top of the Kimberly Hotel. As luck would have it, we heard that they also host a killer Brunch.
On a recent, unseasonably warm Saturday we checked into Upstairs with a mind to investigate their Custom Bloody Mary Cocktail Cart. More about that later. First: Look at all this food! If you’ve brought along your serious appetite, you can begin your meal with the Upstairs Parfait made with Yogurt, Granola and Blood Orange Marmalade ($11), the Fresh Fruit Plate with Honey Crème Fraiche ($12) or something a bit more decadent in the form of an individual Pastry Basket stuffed with a Pain au Chocolate, a Muffin and a Fruit Danish ($14). Maybe you would want to share that pastry basket with a friend…maybe not.
California Spinach Quiche
Egg dishes include the light and flavorful California Spinach Quiche ($13) and a fresh-from-the-farm Goat Cheese & Ratatouille Omelet ($14). Traditional Eggs Benedict is served three ways, with your choice of Canadian Bacon ($16), Smoked Salmon ($18) or Lobster ($24). There’s also a wildly indulgent Truffled Duck Egg Toast with Duck Prosciutto & Gruyere Cheese ($24). All Egg dishes are served with a mixed greens salad and Upstairs’ signature French fries, which are dipped in a light buttermilk/flour mixture before being fried to a golden crisp. Dishes priced at or over $14 include your choice of a Bloody Mary or Mimosa. Brunch!
A Breakfast Sweet Tooth can be sated with an order of Whole-wheat Blueberry Pancakes ($14), Brioche French Toast with Blackberry Salad ($14) or an amazing Buttermilk Waffle with Vanilla Whipped Cream and Mixed Berries ($14).
Kobe Beef Burger
If you’re feeling more like Lunch than Breakfast, nobody does the Kobe Beef Burger (with White Cheddar, Avocado and Grilled Red Onions, $18) quite like Upstairs, and the Lobster Roll ($18) might hit the spot as well.
Mixologist Albert Mixes Up One Helluva Bloody Mary!
And now let’s talk about those Bloody Marys, shall we? While Upstairs has a full bar during Brunch, where a perfectly acceptable Bloody Mary will set you back $10, you might want to consider going for the mixed-to-order version for an extra fiver. These premium Bloody Marys, which are gigantic and meant to be sipped slowly, are prepared and served tableside by a handsome and knowledgeable mixologist named Albert, who mans the cart with great skill. Start off right with your choice of three premium vodkas – Grey Goose, Ketel One or Absolut – then choose your desired level of heat – from one to ten – and tiny scoops of prepared horseradish are added accordingly. Additional add-in seasonings and spices available to suit your taste include crushed red pepper, ground black pepper, mustard seed, cayenne pepper, chili pepper and Old Bay seasoning – which you can add into the Vodka and tomato juice mixture or have applied to the rim of the glass. Fresh extras include slivers of crisp red bell peppers, jalapenos, lemon wedge and the traditional tall stalk of celery garnish. Holy cow, that is one potent Bloody Mary: well worth the 15 Bucks!
Brunch at Upstairs at the Kimberly: You’re Doing it Right.
Upstairs is located at the Kimberly Hotel, Penthouse Level, 145 East 50th Street (East of Lexington) in New York City (Take the 6 Train to Lexington and 51st Street). For reservations please phone 212-888-1220. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 AM-3:30 PM. Proper Attire is Required.
Oh my goodness, I don’t think I could imagine a more delicious thing to eat for breakfast or brunch than hot, fluffy pancakes made from this amazing Bacon Chocolate Chip Pancake Mix. Someone, please make these for me right now.