By Sonja Sweeney
Living in New York City can be a double-edged sword: so many options to choose from and … so many options to choose from! Whenever an out-of-towner asks me to recommend my favorite restaurant, I always stumble to come up with an answer, simply given the sheer number of fantastic dining options this city has to offer. While something can be said for being a regular at a favorite restaurant, on a first-name basis with the staff, and knowing a menu inside and out, I approach dining in New York as a new adventure, always giving a different restaurant a chance to turn me into a loyal fan.
I found such a place upon a recent visit to Saxon + Parole in the East Village, located at 316 Bowery Street at Bleecker. Going out for Sunday brunch is one of my favorite pastimes, but so many brunch spots in the city offer similar fare, and it can become a bit dull after awhile (there’s only so much you can do with a couple of eggs and potatoes). One of the most impressive elements of Saxon + Parole is the variety and originality of their brunch menu.
The restaurant, named after a couple of prized 19th-century racehorses, specializes in “Grilled Meats and Aquatic Delights.” And while their menu options are decidedly “New American,” they have a lot of fun with a unique combination of ingredients. Their French toast is not your basic French toast with powdered sugar, but instead an incredible concoction of crispy bacon, banana, and Nutella stuffed inside two perfectly grilled pieces of egg-battered, homemade bread. When I tried this for the first time, the flavors were multilayered, delicious, and delightfully surprising. Another popular dish is a wonderful twist on eggs benedict, with potato parmesan cakes instead of an English muffin, topped with Smithfield ham and spinach, perfectly poached eggs, and a decadent yuzu hollandaise sauce. Even the BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato) sandwich on homemade bread is less than ordinary, arriving on a cutting board equipped with a steak knife to properly dive into the expertly balanced meal. And let’s not forget the brilliant idea of a DIY Bloody Mary Bar, which allows you to perfect your Bloody Mary to exact specifications.
Beyond the delicious food is the restaurant’s beautiful interior, which is rustic yet modern, comforting yet full of energy. True to its name, the décor has the feel of a country horse stable, incorporating such elements as a barn door separating two dining areas, riding blankets piled high on shelves, and even horseshoes hanging from the downstairs ceiling. Everything works together so well, that as we were putting on our jackets to leave, I blurted out, “I think this is my new favorite brunch spot.” For someone who has very few favorites in a city with millions of options, this was a new experience for me. I can’t wait to go back for dinner and experience their famous burger – perhaps with an out-of-town friend looking for a great recommendation.