Monday, May 11, 2009

Restaurant Review: Brooklyn Label

Brooklyn Label
180 Franklin St
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(718) 389-2806

We've been through this before. You understand my criteria. I am forever on the lookout for a joint that offers me thoughtful, interesting, and flavorful vegetarian options. One meal during which time these demands are particularly difficult to achieve is brunch. And, we all know that in New York City and the surrounding boroughs brunch is a religion. New Yorkers from the Bronx to the far reaches of Brooklyn pray to the brunch altar like priests in Vatican City pray to their rosary beads. I guess I can order pancakes or French toast for brunch. They are vegetarian. But I'm really more of a savory girl. Don't get me wrong. I am sweet, but in the morning, I'm in the mood for something spicy to kick the day into gear. And, let's face it, Bloody Marys don't really go well with maple syrup, the Bloody Mary being my brunch beverage of choice.

Unfortunately, the one drawback of Brooklyn Label, ironically, is that they fail to deliver on my favorite part of brunch: the cocktail. Boo hiss, Brooklyn Label doesn't have a liquor license. However, they do have a license in kick-ass coffee, serving a variety of tasty, decadent coffee drinks using Stumptown Coffee beans, a Portland, Oregon, based coffee-roaster whose Sumatra, according to Saveur magazine, is among the five best in the world. BL also serves a mouth-watering selection of Italian sodas, my favorite being the grapefruit. Quite refreshing.

Now, let's dish about the food. I've sampled an array of their veggie dishes, ranging from the Cobb Salad (bacon on the side), a welcome departure from the meat product adorned variety you oft see in your neighborhood deli; you know, the pile of cheese, meat, and fat masquerading as salad. Well, BL's actually is a salad. Another fave is the veggie bagel, topped with a dab of creme cheese, slices of fresh tomato and red onion, and a sprinkling of capers. Throw on a bit of BL's homemade hot sauce (I like to combine a bit of the habanero with the mild green chile) and you are ready to rock. It may not be the most creative offering on the menu, but it never fails to please me. Okay, I've basically sampled most of the vegetarian offerings, my most disappointing of which is the Red Flannel Hash, a combo of beets, poached eggs, and hollandaise. I was hoping this entree would not be beet, but, sadly, it could be. Based on the description on the menu, as well as my understanding of "hash," I was expecting about something of the shredded beet variety, flattened and fried into a patty of sorts. Alas, I was served a pile of cubed, boiled beet chunks topped with the other accoutrement. Enticing it was not. However, my disappointment with the beet hash has been remedied time and time again with one of my favorite breakfast dishes in the land, the Organic Tofu and Potatoes, a tasty combo of firm tofu and potato chunks sauteed with green onion and broccoli in light curry spices, topped with melted provolone and pico de gallo. I am not exaggerating when I say that I could devour this dish every day. It is decadent and satisfying, without the inevitable dirty feeling I experience following a typical greasy egg breakfast.

For all of you carnivores, I'd be doing you a disservice if I did not tip my hat to the Homemade Biscuits and Sausage Gravy as well as the Brooklyn Label Cheeseburger, both of which my meat and potato eating husband proclaims to be stellar. He does warn, however, that they inspire his digestive organs to accelerate into overdrive, so you should be stationed near a toilet within a half of consumption. "But," he says, "It's well worth it."

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