Tuesday, June 22, 2010

BrunchOUT: Black Swan

Well hello again. Did you miss us? Springtime in Babeland was quite a busy time, with the lovely Melissa earning her college degree (woohoo!) and Emily just being consumed by all things work-related. But the overly chaotic months are somewhat behind us (or maybe we're just adjusting to constant chaos?) and we have finally gotten back to what matters: brunching.

Over the past few months, there was a bit of a commotion over a new bar or restaurant or who knows what being developed in Emily's neighborhood. All of a sudden, it was open and we had Black Swan. Being one to constantly research eateries new and old in the neighborhood, it looked like a nice gastropub had made its way into the neighborhood. And yet, it gets better - they introduced a brunch menu! We craved a low-key, convenient, affordable but also delicious brunch with B, Emily's new roommate and no stranger to Babes Who Brunch. Black Swan just seemed to fit these requirements,  thus our brunch plans were set. 

The interior of Black Swan is gorgeous. You pass the large front bar and the kitchen, where you could easily say hello to the chefs, especially if you're a regular. And then it opens up into the eating space. The sunlight streaming in on that Saturday felt pretty glorious. There is a miniature patio area, but more than eating space, the large open doorway creates a welcome breeze during pleasant weather. A large communal picnic table in the center of the space was home to a birthday brunch during our visit, creating grandiose schemes to bring large numbers of friends to the neighborhood. In general, the space feels rustic and warm with the sheer amount of wood, but open and inviting during the daytime. 

As soon as we were seated by our very friendly, but obviously a bit nervous waiter, we dove into the brief brunch menu. The price was a positive way to start the meal - for $14, you get a choice of coffee or tea and a choice of a bloody mary, mimosa, screwdriver or orange juice. You get to choose your entree, and can decide between a fresh fruit salad or a fruit muffin. Their menu listed Balthazar breads as their bakery, and the recently expanded website mentions the use of Stumptown coffee and organic eggs. We also discovered that they not only have tea, but they had a nice variety from Harney & Sons.

The coffee and tea came out quickly, sufficiently strong and quite a nice start to the day. Next, after an odd pause in the service, came the real open-eye drinks. Again, the small details really shone. The mimosas had a wonderful sparkling bubble to them, with the perfect splash of orange juice. From what we could scope from our table, Black Swan uses mini bottles of champagne, obviously to avoid any flat mimosas. The crisp, fresh bubbles made a nice difference in the drink. The orange juice by itself was also delicious, and they did not skimp on the juice serving. The bloody mary was also quite well done. It had a great lime twist at the end, a perfect horseradish bite, enough vodka and the tomato flavor was pure, not too sweet, fake nor not at all like V8 (which is never a pleasant encounter in bloody marys).

The first bites that came out were the fresh fruit, which happened to be quartered strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. We couldn't help but notice how the large dishes these were served in dwarfed the berries. Restaurant growing pains, right? Because otherwise, the berries were perfectly ripe and a light simple bite before the entrees arrived. Speaking of the entrees, between the three of us, we ordered a fair variety from their menu.

 Two Organic Eggs any style, Multi Grain Toast, Home Fries and Chicken Apple Sausage

B's dish was a hearty sight - two thick, seed filled slices of toasty whole grain bread, scrambled eggs, browned potatoes, a nice pile of dressed mixed greens and a fantastically crisp, split sausage. The sausage was obviously well griddled, caramelized and snappy, and the eggs not scrambled too hard nor too soft.

Salmon Croquette, Cheesy Eggs and Grits

Emily's dish was the epitome of a comforting, simple, savory breakfast. What it lacked in variety of color, it made up in rich flavors and fantastic textures. The salmon croquette was quite respectable - fried with a great crunch and full of salmon and straight forward ingredients. Very little filler, just enough onion, with bell peppers and spices to round it out. For a lady from the South, the grits were absolutely perfect. Not 'gritty', creamy and full of glorious butter. The only thing that the croquette and the eggs were in need of was an extra dash of ground pepper. The cheesy eggs were wonderfully soft scrambled and oozing with cheese. See exhibit A for the delightful cheesiness:

Eggs Benedict with Home Fries, with Smoked Salmon

Melissa's dish was a well executed Eggs Benedict with a small side salad and home fries. Smoked Salmon added just the right amount of saltiness to balance out the other elements. There was a thoughtful balance between all the parts so that no one ingredient became too much after awhile.

The Bottom Dollar

For those that have lived in Bedford Stuyvesant for years, they could easily say that Black Swan is overpriced for the location. But the realities are, in a slowly gentrifying neighborhood, a new gastropub with these prices is fantastic. A solid alcoholic beverage, endless strong, fantastic coffee, a sweet bite and a delicious brunch for $14 is a great deal in our books.

The Bottom Line

Emily says Black Swan is the epitome of a great neighborhood bar and restaurant. Affordable, convenient [to me] and quality food and drinks make it a place I will more than happily return to. In fact, I have already made it back a second time for brunch since our visit. (P.S. the fried chicken is fantastic!) If you live in the immediate area or on the G train in Brooklyn, it's worth a jaunt over for a relaxing brunch.

Melissa says While nothing blew me away or made me want to call it a destination spot, I don't think that's what its trying to be. Black Swan is certainly a welcome addition and a testament to the changing landscape of the neighborhood.

1 comment:

  1. First CHB, now you guys? Man, this place opens up right around the corner from me and I'm like the last to know.

    Planning on getting there this weekend.

    - Clinton Hill Foodie