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The brunch challenge

July 27, 2021

The first time I ever had Sunday brunch was in New York when I was 20. A friend took me to One Five, the restaurant on the ground floor of the fabled Greenwich Village apartment building at 1 Fifth Avenue. For someone who loved art deco as much as I did, it was heaven. The bar and restaurant fittings had been stripped from an old luxury liner and were just divine. 

It was the first place I ever had a Caesar salad. This was back in the day when these were actually prepared at your table and the dressing included a raw egg yolk. So it was also the place where I learnt how to make a Caesar salad. It was the first place I ever had Eggs Benedict (speaking of raw egg yolks!). I loved going there for brunch. Loved it so much that decades later I set a scene in Rum Do there. The last time I was in New York, 25 years ago, I went back. Of course it had changed. Of course it wasn’t as good as I remembered it. (Just now, trying unsuccessfully to find a photo online of the interior, I stumbled across this article about the building itself, which includes at the end a a couple of paragraphs about the “probably cursed” restaurant on the ground floor.)

Of course there were many other places to have a great brunch in New York, but One Five was my absolute favourite. (A failed attempt to get into the Palm Court at the Plaza for brunch with friends one Sunday, also made it into Rum Do.)

If Sunday brunch is a thing in London, it’s not a thing in which I ever indulged. A few times in Toronto, a few times in Vancouver – although in Vancouver it tended to be dim sum, rather than Eggs Benny.

If you wanted brunch here on the island, you’d’ve been SOL for some time. The pub used to have a brunch menu that included Eggs Benny. (Quite why Canadian eateries think Eggs Benedict should be served with sauteed potatoes remains a complete mystery to me.) And I used to take visitors there. Unfortunately they stopped doing anything brunchy a couple of years ago. (This year they’re so short staffed the pub doesn’t even open until 2pm, so I suppose a brunch menu is superfluous.)

As I believe I may have already mentioned, this summer another restaurant (my favourite) launched a new venture – the Fire Truck Grill, a mobile kitchen set up in a lovely location at the south end of the island. Ever since I found out they offered brunch on Sundays I’ve been wanting to check it out. No Eggs Benny, of course, but a breakfast wrap that sounded delicious. Yum.

I arranged to meet a mate there at noon. 

What I’d completely forgotten is that Sunday is also the day local artists and artisans set up a market at said lovely location.

I’d never been to this market, so I had no idea how popular it was. The word “zoo” sprang to mind. It’s so popular that a parking cop is required. Not an actual cop, simply someone whose job was to tell you no, you can’t park here. I saw my mate heading in when I arrived. Fifteen minutes and two “you can’t park theres” later I caught up with him near the front of the queue to place orders. 

Of course the mobile restaurant isn’t licensed, so no chance of a Buck’s Fizz or a Bloody Caesar. But the breakfast wrap was indeed delicious. Would I go again? Hmm. Maybe if someone was visiting. It is a lovely location. Otherwise? Not a chance.

I wish the brunch menu was available on Saturdays, when the location isn’t a zoo. I wish the pub still did brunch.

From → Blog

  1. krysross permalink

    You took me to One Five for an Eggs Benny brunch the one time we were in New York together. What a weird and wonderful trip that was. (My first Caesar salad was in Tijauna, in a restaurant that claimed to have invented it. Also with raw egg and where I learned to make it. Completely delicious. Though now I make a pretty good eggless version.)

  2. Susan Yates permalink

    I’m not one for public comments except fire-breathing letters to our Local Trust Committee but I sure agree re the lack of brunch on this rock. And I sure wish I could have visited New York when One Five existed, except of course I wouldn’t have had a clue about where it was seeing as the biggest city I’ve ever been in is Vancouver, where I was born. Good thing I have sophisticated friends who write funny and interesting blogs!

  3. Catherine Stewart permalink

    Fun story and thanks for the link to the piece on One Fifth! Art Deco is so fabulous, such a favourite, and I remember that building, although was never inside. Your brunch experience there sounds most enviable. And the article was fascinating. Fun to read about residents and get a peek inside. Thanks. Good read all round.

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