There are loads of awesome local brunch spots, but in a game of quick-fire word association I’d automatically pair ‘Greenpoint Brunch‘ with ‘Five Leaves‘. Unfortunately, as the heavily populated corner of Bedford and Lorimer demonstrates, so would the rest of the neighborhood which means you have to get there bright and early on weekends to avoid a wait for a table.
The reason Five Leaves (18 Bedford Ave) is so goddamn popular? It has the formula just right: The pretty interior (evocative of a Parisian bistro), the atmosphere (relaxed no matter how busy), and really lovely staff. The main draw though is the food, which is always spot-on. Everything on the menu is extremely appealing (yep, over time I’ve tried pretty much the entire brunch line-up) but the Brûléed Grapefruit and the Mushroom Toast remain my favorites.
Not content with simply maintaining their day-to-day high standards, there’s been lots happening for the Five Leaves team of late. Owner Jud Mongell launched a restaurant at Ace Hotel LA and a pop-up crate at Rough Trade in Williamsburg, and now chef Ken Addington has turned his hand to creating some springtime additions to the Greenpoint menu.
Brunch has gained a glorious Chia Pudding. It replaces the bircher muesli but rest safe bircher fans, it’s just as good. Made with coconut milk it’s light and creamy and topped with fresh mango, pistachios, cacao nibs and plump, juicy goji berries. Power breakfast anyone?
Lunch now has the addition of a Grilled Mahi Mahi Sandwich. The fish fillet has an oomphy chili kick and comes in a toasted brioche bun with preserved lemon remoulade and a pickled cucumber relish. You can get it with salad or fries or you can push the boat out and get the truffle fries for an extra $2 (do it!).
Dinner, among other things, has a scrummy new starter of Spiced Cauliflower Fritters with green apple raita, chilies and black eyed peas (is it just me or is the humble cauliflower making a comeback?). The fritters are light, crisp and perfectly spiced and taste super-good with the cool raita.
There’s also a new pasta dish: House-made Agnolloti (a bit like ravioli) is stuffed with burrata (a cream-based mozzarella) and sweet peas. It’s smothered in a smoky carrot sauce, and laden with herbs and bright green fresh chickpeas. This was the first time I’d encountered a chickpea in a shade other than beige and it was a revelation.
But it’s not just the food menu getting an overhaul. Upstate cocktail expert Josh Rosenmeier has been busy devising new house tipples including the Brandy Colada (Cognac, coconut water, macadamia syrup, pineapple, lemon, bitters) which is like a very fun holiday in a glass, and the Alaska (gin, yellow chartreuse, orange & lavender bitters). I especially love the Green Snapper (gin, cucumber, lemon, mint, green chili), which is refreshing as can be and green as the new leaves on the trees.
And talking of leaves: Five Leaves, even though we can’t always get a seat on weekends, we love you. Keep doing what you do!