Rise. Shine. Eat.
Brunches worth waking up for
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Photography by John Fortunato
Anything goes with the nebulous meal known as brunch. Not quite breakfast, not quite lunch, this versatile (and often decadent) feast is hard to take advantage of during the week, but come Sunday, it’s a treat worth waking up for (though not until at least 11 or 12). Brunch is the ideal compromise when your mate/kids/girlfriend want bacon and eggs, but you prefer a lightly tossed chicken Caesar. Brunch, by definition, offers two glorious meals in one, meaning you don’t have to choose between your favorite morning pick-me-up and your midday meal. So have your cake (er, French toast in this case) and eat it too; in Westchester, there are lots of choices deserving of a lingering Sunday afternoon.
Moroccan-style brunch items from Zitoune include French toast with caramelized green apples and sweet, spiced berries (center); and (clockwise from bottom left) beignets, vegetarian omelet, and homemade bread with olive tapenade.
Those who order, say, eggs Benedict or a cheese omelet every time they go out for breakfast may find themselves dipping into new territory at Moroccan restaurant Zitoune (1127 W Boston Rd, Mamaroneck 914-835-8350) Sunday brunch served from 11:30 am to 4 pm; prix fixe at $15 for adults, $7.50 for children, or à la carte), where the menu is so inventive that the usual brunch items sound boring. You’ll find it hard to choose between the sweet Moroccan beignets (deep-fried dough served with honey); couscous El Fassi (couscous Fez-style with caramelized onions, raisins, and chickpeas); or lamb brochettes (marinated lamb cubes on a skewer with homemade potatoes and Moroccan spiced mayo), all of which is served on gorgeous, colorful plates. The ambience is casual, with a sultry Arabian atmosphere: vibrant tiles, gauzy fabrics, a billowy canvas ceiling, and cushioned sofas (ask for the red couch or the more private blue one towards the front). Every piece of furniture, down to the flooring, comes direct from Morocco and the attention to detail makes you want to book a trip right then and there (literature provided by Cynab Voyages, a Moroccan tour company, is available on a small desk out front).
Dobbs Ferry newcomer The Cookery (39 Chestnut St, Dobbs Ferry 914-305-2336) Sunday brunch 11 am to 3:30 pm) quickly has become a neighborhood hit, with people spilling out the door on weekend nights waiting for a table. But come on a Sunday and you’ll get right in, and be treated to the same simple, delicious food created by former Zuppa Chef David DiBari. There’s nothing standard on this menu and DiBari himself readily admits he’s still playing around as he and the neighborhood adapt to each other. So far, though, everything’s a winner, starting with hanger steak and eggs with goose fat potatoes and caramelized onions, ricotta pancakes, and white lasagna with béchamel, ricotta, mushrooms, and ham. It’s the kind of artistic menu that has you craning your neck and saying, “Ooh, that looks good!” each time the waiter walks by with another table’s order. Be warned: you will be tempted by a lot, by such delectables as ricotta pancakes with dulce con leche, Tuscan French toast with bananas and Nutella, and frittata with potatoes and onions, truffle oil, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. DiBari even has his personal favorite: “pizza rustica,” classic Easter pie, because why wait for Easter to indulge in something you love? The room is bright, cheerful, and kitchen-themed with adorable mason jars filled with pots of sugar (and a votive candle inside), and a huge table in the front with a rack of pots and pans hanging overhead like a chandelier. Even more poignant: the table, once his grandmother’s, dates back to his youth and was where he hid his Matchbox cars as a kid. Fun to see how far he’s come.
Bistro Citron (2 Weaver St, Scarsdale 914-574-5564) Sunday brunch 11:30 am to 3 pm) is trying. It has a sunnier presence than its predecessor, Backals (the old Heathcote Tavern), with bistro tables on the front patio, and cozy red cushioned banquettes along the interior walls. And the décor inside is still as striking and gorgeous as ever. For now, brunch is a quiet affair filled with French-accented entrées like croque madame and monsieur, protein-filled crêpes, a variety of les moules (mussels), and numerous omelets. There’s potential for sure, with warm hearty bread served as soon as you’re seated, with a choice of chicken pâté and butter. Sip on a mimosa and watch the gorgeous white platters of various sizes piled with artsy-looking entrées go by before deciding on what to order. In some cases, the presentation is so pretty that you almost don’t mind the fact that, when your order comes, some dishes are missing a side of potatoes or need more toast (the quiche of the day, chicken and mushroom, disappointed, not because it wasn’t delicious, but because the tart size was way too small for a hungry bruncher). Go for the egg dishes like oeufs Benedict or oeufs Florentine aux truffles, as they are the heartiest. They also have banana and cinnamon pancakes served with maple syrup and jelly. At press time, the restaurant was in the midst of tweaking its menu. The nine-month-old space (a former brothel) is a neighborhood institution despite its many incarnations, with plenty of parking and a happy-to-serve-you vibe.
When you take your seat at The Barn at Bedford Post (954 Old Post Rd, Bedford 914-234-7800) brunch Saturdays and Sundays 9 am to 3 pm), stop for a moment and take in the Zen-like surroundings. By then, one waitress will have filled your cup with hot coffee, while another will be standing by to take your cocktail order (try the sweet tea with Chambord or the Valencia with OJ, cava, and thyme). And that impeccable standard of service will continue all morning. This rustic space, which has a warm, homey vibe that feels plucked straight out of California (as opposed to just off Route 121), has a calming ambience that makes you want to sit here all day and revel in the gorgeous surroundings and soul-warming tastes. And you can, as you move from breakfast entrées like house-made pecan-cranberry granola with organic yogurt to banana pancakes with caramelized pecans and New York maple syrup, to spring vegetable chopped salad or a citrus-cured wild king salmon. Kids will be happy, too, with the options of scrambled eggs, brioche French toast, chicken fingers, and grilled cheese. And if you time it right (meaning come on Saturday as there are no classes Sunday), you can leave your partner with the kids while you opt for a yoga class upstairs.