Every morning, just checking my phone makes me hungry. I find myself me drooling over the latest additions to the Brooklyn restaurant scene, the Instas, the New York Times reviews, the chef cred … until I check the menu and see the kinds of prices that can really kill an appetite.
One trick I’ve learned for saving money when it comes to trying a new place: brunch. It’s a great way to test out the kitchen’s chops and it’s almost always way cheaper than a dinner bill. Plus, some places offer special drink deals in the morning. Just a note: brunch still gets kinda pricey, but once you do the math, all these meals come out the winner compared to their nighttime counterpart. And besides, it’s the weekend: treat yo’self.
Delaware and Hudson 135 N 5th St., Williamsburg Dinner price: $58 prix-fix Brunch price: $12 – $16 mains If you’ve read any NYC food blogs lately, then you’ve certainly heard about Delaware and Hudson. This farm-focused Williamsburg newcomer just won its Michelin Star for the second year in a row, and is expanding into a space next door. The problem: they only do a $58 pre fixe (albeit, a scrumptious and filling $58 prix fixe) for dinner. Thank goodness they offer brunch. Get a full sampling of mid-Atlantic flavors with the Pennsylvania Dutch scrapple ($12) plus a house-made raspberry shrub ($4), and do not skimp on the fresh cinnamon doughnuts with fresh apple compote ($6).
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The Grand Army
336 State St., Boerum Hill
Brunch price: $70
The Grand Army is known for its incredible raw bar, but if you’re looking for a deal here, you’ll only find it between the hours of 12 and 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Normally, a meal full of a dozen oysters with other raw bar items like littleneck clams, shrimp cocktail, and an Alaskan king crab leg, plus drinks for 2, could set you back close to $90.
On the weekends, there’s only one way to go: the bloody mary platter (2 bloodys with pilsner sidekicks — beer chaser traditional in the Midwest —veggie crudite, a dozen oysters + clams, shrimp cocktail and crab legs) for $70. Yeah, you’re still dropping a bit of cash, but it’s definitely the best way to see what Grand Army’s all about.
Clover Club 210 Smith St, Cobble Hill Dinner price: $27 for oysters ‘Rock Your Face Off’ + drink Brunch price: $23 for oysters ‘Rock Your Face Off’ + drink For just a “cocktail bar,” Clover Club has some pretty awesome food. Lamb burgers, deviled eggs, fried chicken … and duh, their drinks are awesome too. Next time you’re in Cobble Hill around brunch, give this place a shot. The daytime cocktail menu is extensive (the drinks, most around $10, are divided into at least seven categories), and they serve many of the same dishes (like oysters ‘rock your face off’, their version of oysters Rockefeller) as they do during dinner for a few bucks less. Ok, so you’re only saving like $4 on the whole, but that’s enough for a side order of cheddar grits, or a High Life over at Boat Bar down the street.
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The Good Fork
391 Van Brunt St., Red Hook
Dinner price: $15 (burger) – $31 mains
Brunch price: $8 – $16 mains
The Good Fork is one of those little-known spots that, once you find it, will make you feel like you’ve struck gold. My only gripe about this place (aside from the fact that it’s a bit hard to reach) is that the check always seems a bit too high.
Then I learned that they do brunch and suddenly my whole perspective changed! Come during daylight hours, and you’ll find a lot of the same Korean-American flavors for a way more manageable price. Stars include the $13 crispy pork belly sandwich, french toast with mascarpone cheese ($12) – and you can still get the $10 homemade pork dumplings!
Le Barricou 533 Grand St., East Williamsburg Dinner price: $13 – $23 mains Brunch price: $9 – $19 mains Ok, so there’s virtually no media hype around this little French bistro in Williamsburg, but it’s one of my favorite spots in town. Every bite they serve is perfect, and the ambience is a little bit Paris brasserie, a little bit Brooklyn date night. But with a menu that spans from coq au vin to steak tartare, it can be hard to get a true sense of their kitchen without depleting all your funds. The brunch, on the other hand is reasonably priced (several options $10 and under), and includes Francophile faves like pate (served as a sandwich for $12) and croque madam ($13). Heed my advice: get the baked-to order pancake – it’s served with strawberry butter and hands down the absolute best thing on the menu.
95 Commercial St., Greenpoint
Dinner price: $10 – $26 plates
Brunch price: $13 – $16, plus Mezze feast
Sure, Glasserie is so far north in Greenpoint it might as well be in Queens, but if you ask me, it’s worth the trip if you’re coming from parts south. They serve up some of the freshest mediterranean food in town, and because of their close relationships with regional farms, the menu is always changing to reflect the season.
If you haven’t been yet, bring a friend (or few) for brunch, and make sure to order the mezze feast ($19-25 for 10 seasonal small dishes like labne, pickled veggies, and tabouli + a large plate) — it’s the best way to see what’s going on in their kitchen and get a sense of their Mediterranean roots.
Vinegar Hill House
72 Hudson Ave, DUMBO/Vinegar Hill
Dinner Price: $23 – $32 mains
Brunch Price: $13 – $17 mains
This relaxed DUMBO restaurant has been a longtime love of food critics and foodies alike. I’d even say that every dollar you spend here is completely worth it, but what if you don’t have so many dollars?
Skip dinner and go for brunch instead! Besides, there’s nothing more Brooklyn than taking a stroll along the East River to admire the Brooklyn Bridge after eating a biscuit sandwich with a fried egg and hot honey ($16), pear sourdough pancakes ($13), and maple cured slab bacon ($6).
Follow Rebecca on Twitter without having to wait in a brunch line:@beccastories.
More on brunch:
The best Brooklyn brunch spots with fireplaces