Hello my dear reader(s?),
Of course, after setting up the Brunch Experience with all these interesting characters, my first two entries won't actually include most of them.
You see, El Generalissimo and The Red Queen were off in Scandanavia for the past two Sundays. The Kung-fu Master and Wife were also unavailable. The Boys had a show and the Lady of the Book was in rehearsal.
But fear not, for Father and Mother Baron were in town for a visit. I suggested we meet up at Vesta for Sunday brunch. I had eaten there for dinner once, on the recommendation of EG and RQ. It was a delightful dinner and I was really looking forward to the brunch. Vesta's an "Italian trattoria & wine bar," but what really interests me is their devotion to the slow-food and locavore movements. For the uninitiated, what this basically entails is trying to get all their products from local, organic, sustainable farms. Vesta gets all their produce from local farmers, but their meat, bread, and alcohol can come from a bit further afield.
FB, MB, and I were joined by two lovely ladies. The first is Cousin E, my younger cousin who also happens to live in NY. Although she's a Manhattanite, we don't hold it against her. A recent college grad, she is trying to find her way in the world, which basically consists of doing good. The second, we'll call Signorina Anna, although that's not her name and she's not Italian. She is, however, a theatre producer/director and came down to NYC from Boston to prepare for her theatre company's Fringe show.
We arrived at 11am, just as Vesta's was opening. Because it was hot and Mother Baron didn't feel like walking a ways to get there from Chez BB, we took their car... and amazingly found parking right in front. It was a good thing, too. Apparently, the secret that was Vesta has got out because within a half an hour the entire place, including bar stools, was full.
The decor is simple, but I believe features work of local artists, so probably changes frequently. The one piece that did catch my eye was of a tuxedo cat. It looked an awful lot like "Bizarro Botwin," a stray who looks almost exactly like my cat (Botwin) who comes up to the window at night and tries to start shit. The waitress informed me that the painting was by one of the owners and definitely was not a local neighborhood stray. So my ongoing quest to get rid of my late night pest will continue.
Our waitress was pleasant and immediately put on a pot of the coffee we were so desperately needing. Being brunch, I ordered a cocktail, a "Citrus Mint Tea." The waitress informed me that the mint hadn't arrived yet, but would be there in two minutes. Sure enough, four minutes later (2 to make the drink), and refreshing cocktail sat before me. Aside from the citrus and mint, there was some celery and maybe one for type of green in it. The effect was a fresh, clean cocktail that was in no way sweet. Kind of the perfect thing for a hot summer day.
Coffee and cocktail in hand, I was ready for food. The menu looked great, with plenty of interesting sweet or savory options to explore. http://www.vestavino.com/index.php?id=104
Thankfully, my fellow diners helped out by getting a wide range of dishes. Well, except for Signorina Anna, who had the poor taste to choose exactly what I picked. The two of us noshed on the "Warm Bankie:" fried eggs with polenta, asparagus, mushrooms and truffle oil. Everything was cooked perfectly, except somehow the seasoning was off - more salt, more pepper? Maybe the texture of a deliciously gooey egg and a soft but gritty polenta just didn't agree with me. I think the earthy flavors of the mushrooms, truffle, and asparagus also helped drag the dish down to levels that were a bit too earthy for me. Maybe some bright, hard cheese would have helped. Cousin E got a very simple veggie omelet. She has specific tastes, and though I did not try her dish, she seemed to enjoy it.
Now my progenitors had tastes more akin to my own. No surprise as I did spring forth from their loins. Mother Baron went sweet with delicious pancakes with ricotta, walnuts, and whipped cream. I enjoyed her dish, but like my own, was not in love with it. Again, the proportions seemed a bit off, and the pancake tasted a little dry when paired with the ricotta. Still, it was a worthy effort, and for a woman who is 5 ft and under 100lb, she did an admirable job finishing it all off.
The star of the show was definitely the Brioche Burger Father Baron ordered. The waitress warned us that it would take longer than the other dishes to prepare, but boy was it worth the wait. Actually, the kitchen and waitstaff timed everything perfectly, so we all received are dishes at the same time. The brioche was warm and crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside with just the right hint of sweetness. It was a perfect complement to a well-seasoned, juicy, grass-fed burger. The aged cheddar added just the right amount of saltiness, and if we weren't in public, there was a strong chance I would have stolen more than a bite from my father's dish.
All in all, it was an above average brunch, but honestly, could not hold a candle to their dinners... or to some of the other brunch places I visit. Will I go back? Absolutely.
Until next entry: Happy Brunching!