Edward’s

Nothing says a perfect summer brunch like an open-air restaurant and some good huevos rancheros, so today we are taking a trip downtown to Edward’s for some sunshine and simple new American brunch. Edward’s, a TriBeCa staple, is a charming sidewalk café that boasts a family-friendly atmosphere as well as a full bar. Whatever you’re looking for this weekend, Edward’s has the brunch for you.

edward's (sidewalk)

Located on Broadway between Duane Street and Thomas Street, Edward’s is an easy walk from either the Franklin Street station on the 1 train or the Chambers Street station on the 1, 2, and 3 trains. Edward’s is also near the Hudson River Park, which is the perfect place for a weekend stroll before or after brunch.

When we swung by Edward’s on a Saturday afternoon, the sidewalk café was already filled with people sipping mimosas and munching their brunch. Consequently, we sat at the bar, which still had lots of natural lighting and a great view of the entire restaurant. (Of course, sitting at the bar means not a lot of places to put your bags, so don’t bring your whole life in your tote, especially if you also have to carry a stuffed bear, ahem.)

edward's (bar)

Our server was the bartender himself, and while he winced when I told him that I was allergic to butter, he recovered quickly and offered up any egg dish. I asked about the huevos rancheros and he nodded vigorously. “Oh, yes, huevos rancheros, yes, yes, we can definitely do that.” He ran to the kitchen to double check, and there seemed to be no problem.

edward's (menu)

For the uninitiated, huevos rancheros are a classic breakfast plate, with eggs (huevos), tortillas, rice, beans, and whatever else restaurants like to put on them, or consequently, whatever else you have in your refrigerator. I think of huevos rancheros like fried rice—it’s what you make the day after you’ve made tacos, and you throw all the ingredients together again with some eggs and call it breakfast. The eggs are classically served over easy, so if you like runny eggs but can’t eat Hollandaise, this breakfast dish is a great one!

edward's (food)

At Edward’s, huevos rancheros, though elegantly plated, is remarkably simple: black beans and tomato sauce, with a crispy tortilla, eggs, and diced tomatoes as a garnish. What started off as a fork-and-knife breakfast quickly became a spoon breakfast, but the simplicity allowed for the main ingredients to be powerful and complement each other fully. The runny eggs softened the crispy tortilla, and the tomatoes and the sauce gave a sweetness to the salty, hearty beans. Although there was not many ingredients on the plate, and we would have certainly eaten a larger portion, we appreciated that Edward’s was able to preserve a classic dish with integrity and respect to its simplicity, unlike so many restaurants who constantly try to reinvent things.

edward's (restaurant)

The ambience at Edward’s is friendly, and the volume level was low enough that we were able to converse sitting sideways at a bar, but not so soft that we felt uncomfortable discussing our personal lives. The bartender was attentive and kept our drinks filled and checked in about the allergies again after we started eating. He even let us split our bill three ways on three different cards! (Bless that man.)

edward's (matches)

New York can be overwhelming with its trends, especially the foodie ones, and it’s often frustrating to find a simple place to grab brunch and catch up without having to wait in lines for the hottest new place, or sift through the menu to find something where you recognize all the ingredients listed. Welcome to Edward’s, where you can embrace the romance of summer in New York and promptly ignore the rest. They even have old-school matchbooks with their logo printed on it, a throwback to the days when restaurants still did that!

edward's (bear)

Edward’s is the New York that you hope to find as a New Yorker—not the dazzling danger of Times Square and Rockefeller, but the quiet New York that you can tuck in your back pocket like a matchbook and keep for another sunny weekend.

L’Arte del Gelato

Happy National Ice Cream Day, a perfect ice cream Sunday to mark the midst of summer! July is actually National Ice Cream Month and last year we celebrated by attending the Brooklyn Flea Crème de la Crème Ice Cream Bonanza! If you’re able and willing to slog through the heat of the L train to visit this year’s festival, by all means, we recommend it! If, however, you’d like to stay on the island in an air-conditioned facility (we don’t blame you!), might we suggest L’Arte del Gelato in Chelsea Market?l'arte del gelato (chelsea market)

Chelsea Market is a little bit like the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco: a hipster market in a historical building. You can buy all your gift cheeses and goat milk soaps among the various bakeries and bruncheries, and all the while marveling at the incredible variety of people that stream like fish through the narrow hallway. The crowds are not totally ideal for a hot summer day—nothing is more unpleasant than the sweat of strangers—but if you can handle it for the sake of ice cream Sundays, then a trip to L’Arte del Gelato may be worth it!

Chelsea Market (and L’Arte del Gelato) spans an entire block in Chelsea between 15th and 16th Streets, with an entrance on 9th Avenue. The closest subway stations are the 8th Avenue station on the L train, or 18th Street on the 1 train. Chelsea Market is also a short walk from the 14th Street station on the 1, 2, 3, A, C, or E trains.

l'arte del gelato (counter)

L’Arte del Gelato is a family-owned Sicilian gelateria inspired by the American dream of ice cream. With flavors listed in the original Italian, L’Arte del Gelato reminds customers of its authenticity and heritage. The creative gelato flavors are dictated by the season, as fresh ingredients are the key to well-made gelato. Although traditional gelati contain a lot milk and cream, all the sorbetti listed at L’Arte del Gelato is both dairy-free and nut-free! As always, ask your server to please wash the scoop extra, and L’Arte del Gelato is happy to oblige.

l'arte del gelato (gelato)

I chose the pera (pear) and the limone arancia (lemon and orange) flavors in a regular sugar cone. Pear is a rare fruit, particularly in New York, and reminds me of juicy, buttery holiday pears. The sweet, soft pera scoop had the grainy fruit texture that I love and balanced perfectly against the tang of the citrus flavors in the limone arancia. The lemon and orange flavors were reminiscent of a sweet, summer drink, and perfectly refreshing as we fought throngs of people to get out of Chelsea Market.

l'arte del gelato (bear)

L’Arte del Gelato supplements their permanent residence in Chelsea Market with seasonal carts during the summer at both the High Line and Lincoln Center Plaza. Whether you are Instagramming flowers from the High Line or jumping in fountains at Lincoln Center, be sure to grab a refreshing scoop at L’Arte del Gelato to complete your perfect ice cream Sunday and celebrate National Ice Cream Month!

Umami Burger

Happy American Independence Day to all you Brunch with Bearees! We love nothing more than parades, fireworks, and star-spangled pants and hope that your long weekend is filled with all of the above and more. Today we bring you to Umami Burger, to remind ourselves of the innovation and creativity that inspired the formation of this country, as well as the hamburgers and French fries that sustain it today.

umami burger (logo)

One of the things that neuroscience majors such as myself learn over and over again are the five tastes that human tongues can detect. Perhaps the most commonly known ones are sweet, salty, bitter, and sour—but a taste with which you may not be familiar is known as umami. The Japanese word for “delicious,” umami describes the savory taste of meat, mushrooms, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and a multitude of other foods that are often sources of proteins. Capitalizing on this taste is the hip chain Umami Burger, which started in my hometown of Los Angeles but has since branched out to Greenwich Village, TriBeCa, and Williamsburg.

umami burger (awning)

On a sunny spring visit to NYU’s Shakespeare in the Square, we stopped by Umami Burger for a quick lunch on a blustery day. Located on 6th Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets, Umami Burger is a short walk away from the iconic Washington Square Park. The closest subway stops are the W 4 station on the A, B, C, D, E, F, and M trains, the Christopher Street – Sheridan Street station on the 1 train, or the Astor Place station on the 6 train. As aforementioned, there are also locations in TriBeCa and Williamsburg.

umami burger (exterior)

We were seated by the window in an empty upstairs section, and immediately we noticed the aggressively thumping club music—at 11:30 in the morning. Our waiter came over and walked us through the menu and I asked him about my food allergies to dairy and to peanuts. He pointed out several gluten-free menu on the items, but was unsure about the dairy and peanut situation. He pointed out that sometimes the buns have honey, which is not vegan, but I explained to him that I actually eat meat, but not dairy products. He seemed confused, so we started off with an order of maple bacon fries while he checked on the buns with the kitchen.

umami burger (restaurant)

When he came back with information in the buns, he said that the buns indeed had dairy in them, and contained honey. The way he kept repeating the information made me think that he thought I was allergic to honey, to which I said that I was actually only allergic to dairy. The miscommunication was not a good omen for the rest of the meal, as it made me suspicious of our waiter, as well as disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to eat an actual burger at a burger place. I decided to just order the classic umami burger without the parmesan frico, or a fried disc of parmesan cheese, and, of course, without the bun. The waiter mentioned that the restaurant really discouraged substitutions or changes to the menu, “but in your case, I guess we have to make the exception.” So far, not a great start for Umami Burger, though a very popular chain in the hipster-foodie-land of Los Angeles, and likely to be a big hit in New York City.

umami burger (fries)

The maple bacon fries were rich in flavor, although I’m not sure that I would necessarily call the flavor umami so much as just decadent. Pan-fried with a maple syrup glaze, these sweet potato fries were also tossed with generous “bacon lardons,” which is a fancy French way of saying thick chunks of bacon. The “group” serving may not seem that large, but because of the intense flavor, it was certainly enough for three people. We also ordered regular fries, which were just as crispy and salty as you would hope. Honestly, these might have been the best thing on the menu.

umami burger (burger)

The classic umami burger was certainly a disappointment. We hail from the land of In-N-Out Burger so we know a thing or two about simple hamburgers. Unfortunately, Umami Burger is anything but simple. Served almost rare, the meat was juicy and bursting with strange tangy flavors that seemed misplaced—although maybe that is just what raw meat tastes like. The lack of a bun was then a double disappointment, as the whole thing fell apart almost immediately after I speared it with my fork. Let’s just say that wrapping rare meat in lettuce is not a good substitute for not having any bread that accommodates dietary restrictions. In addition, the house made ketchup did not have the same sweet tomato flavor of Heinz, or even other homemade ketchups. It had a sharp vinegar flavor that left a sour aftertaste, which was only heightened by the onions. In addition there were tomatoes and mushrooms in the mix, to confuse my tastebuds even more The entire experience—bitter, sour, tangy, and not a bit umami—drove me to drink a lot of water, which is probably good, and eat a lot of fries, which is probably bad.

The flavors were so heavy and so eclectic that it reminded me of the time my grandmother put apples, orange juice, and Japanese cucumbers in a blender and made me drink the whole thing—the textures, the flavors, the concepts were good in her mind, but definitely did not work out in the blender. And the umami burger did not work for us on the plate.

umami burger (bear)

Umami Burger is also a great deal more expensive than your average fast food burger, with each burger upwards of ten dollars and all fries, even regular ones, are extra. The crowd at Umami Burger was nonexistent, as we were seated first in an empty upstairs room with only the bartender for company, and later were joined by only a few couples, hopefully not on first dates.

Of course, this reaction is one of personal taste rather than relating allergies, so it is naturally necessary to report that we suffered no allergic reaction or even the hint of side effects from Umami Burger. However, my experience with food allergies has taught me that sometimes the simpler foods are often the safest and the most comfortable. Umami Burger was certainly an exercise in discomfort, and we will likely not return again soon.

Although America may have been founded by rakish youths who wanted to settle a new world of freedom and hamburgers, it is also a country of tradition and loyalty so we will exercise the right to freedom of hamburger choice and stick to our regular hamburgers with ketchup optional. And what a perfect day for those!

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory

The Brunch with Bear team knows no better way to kick off summer than a good ol’ ice cream Sunday, so today we’re giving you the full scoop on the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory! (See what we did there?) (We are so funny.) If you are, like we are, lying on the floor because heat rises and it’s cooler down here, pick yourself up and get down to Chinatown!

Located at 65 Bayard Street, the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory can be found between Mott and Elizabeth Streets. The closest subway stops are Canal Street on the 6, N, Q, R, J, or Z trains, but you can also go to Grand Street on the B or D trains. The Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is just a short walk from Golden Unicorn, Ping’s Seafood, and pretty much all the other restaurants in Manhattan Chinatown, so if you’re already there for dim sum, why not stay for dessert?

 
The Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is a family-owned independent ice cream establishment down in the depths of Manhattan Chinatown. For almost thirty years, the good people behind Chinatown Ice Cream Factory have attempted to blend the Western love for ice cream with the beloved and unique flavors of Chinese cuisine. Plus, their logo is a cool dragon eating ice cream!

 
Besides the regular vanilla and strawberry, they also boast great flavors like almond cookie, black sesame, don tot (an egg custard pastry at dim sum), red bean, etc. etc. The best part is that they also serve house-made sorbet for all the dairy-free bears out there! The flavors change seasonally, as they are fruit-based, but you can sample as many as you like. When we visited the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory back in April, they had lychee, black raspberry, and mango papaya sorbet available. I wish there had been a dairy-free almond cookie flavor, but alas, there was not. I opted for the mango papaya sorbet, a beautiful sunset orange hue with a sweet, soft flavor.

 
The servers at Chinatown Ice Cream Factory are very friendly, informative, and totally willing to wash the scoop extra when you tell them you have a severe dairy allergy. Although it was still snowing outside, the place was packed wall-to-wall—arguably not hard for the small shop, but still—and yet the servers were calm, patient, and handled the mix of languages with ease and grace.

 
I grumbled at the snow freezing my hand on the outside while my ice cream froze my hand on the inside, but as my cousins pointed out, “This way it won’t melt!” Although I practically froze my face off with the combination of snow and ice cream, it was completely worth it. The mango papaya was tart but sweet and a lovely tropical aftertaste that made it seem like maybe we weren’t still in the middle of winter, but instead on a warm tropical island.

 Now that it’s summertime, it’s time to really embrace that warm island feeling—starting with the unbearable humidity and ending with a perfect scoop of ice cream. Happy Sunday and happy summer!

Fred’s

Well, we never thought we’d say it, but we have found a brunch spot where Bear actually blends into the crowd. That’s right, a small golden bear with a red plaid bow tie and no tail who is under two feet tall actually belongs at this restaurant. And which restaurant might that be, you wonder? Of course, none other than Fred’s.

An Upper West Side staple, Fred’s was named for a black Labrador Retriever bred by an organization dedicated to raising guide dogs for visually impaired individuals. Fred, despite being a great dog, was one of the few puppies unsuited to the task of becoming an effective guide dog, and she found her home near her eponymous restaurant.

fred's (menu)

Fred’s is decorated with precious photographs of puppies, sent by loving customers from around the world, and represents the loyalty and affection that is man’s best friend. As you can probably guess, Bear was delighted to see his furry friends so heavily represented at Fred’s, and felt right at home as another fluffy companion.

fred's (restaurant)

The other reason that Bear fit in at Fred’s so naturally was because Fred’s is also known as an incredibly family-friendly restaurant. Indeed, we were surrounded by beautiful Upper West Side families, most with small children that had no qualms making conversation with us and showing us their various toys, gadgets, and, yes, bears. Bear was too shy to spend much time with the children, but perhaps next time we go, he will make some new friends.

Fred’s is located in the heart of the Upper West Side, on the southwest corner of 83rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue. It is a short, pleasant walk from the 79th Street station on the 1 train, the 81st Street station on the B or C train, or the 86th Street station on the 1, B, or C train.

fred's (restaurant)

The host at Fred’s was incredibly friendly and sat me, though I was still waiting for a friend. “We’re not busy yet,” he assured, and gave me a premium seat by the window, with lots of light and opportunity for people-watching. The menu at Fred’s is extensive, and covers most of the standard brunch fair with an easy versatility. They have some special dishes, but every item is familiar and recognizable as American brunch food.

All the waiters at Fred’s have an unbelievably strong hair game going on, and all of them were friendly to the point of new-best-friend status. Our server in particular completely understood the struggle of being dairy-free and peanut-free, and having waiters rattle off the gluten-free options. “Honey, I can bring you a pile of gluten if that’s what you want,” he confirmed. He also understood that dairy did not include eggs, and said that any egg dish was doable, but he also recommended the grilled chicken sandwich. Perfect hair, perfect understanding of allergies—new-best-friend status, indeed.

While I was definitely tempted by the chicken sandwich, I eat chicken and rice almost every day, and therefore was hoping to branch out to more traditional brunch fare. I finally settled on the steak and eggs, because Fred’s offered the least expensive (read: under twenty dollars) steak and egg plate I had ever seen in the city of New York. Our waiter confirmed that it was a great choice, and made sure to have it cooked perfectly—just a little pink on the inside.

fred's (food)

Turns out the steak and egg plate is actually a three course meal on a single plate. Not only are there steak and eggs, but also fries, and a heaping green salad. Not a speck of cheese, butter, or cream evident on the plate, and the kitchen had also been considerate enough to include olive oil on the side of my salad instead of a creamy dressing. A server quickly brought ketchup for the plate, as well as balsamic vinegar at my request, to go with the olive oil.

Everything was perfect and delicious. The fries were well-cut, the eggs were scrambled firm like I had asked, and the steak was perfectly grilled to a juicy touch-of-pink. I don’t even like salad, and I ate my whole salad! The multitude of things to eat also meant that I could have the pleasure of composing bites, combining flavors, and savoring each component. Even when I was lingering on the last few bites, the servers were totally understanding that I was a slow eater, and let me really finish everything before taking my plate away.

fred's (bear)

Fred’s had a cozy, rustic ambience that allowed for great, unobstructed conversation, as well as great, unobstructed eavesdropping and people-watching. Although we went for Saturday brunch, they also have a really well-priced Sunday brunch prix fixe that we’d love to check out. As we mentioned, Fred’s is also really family-friendly, and obviously used to dealing with food allergies, not to mention furry companions! If you’re spending the day on the Upper West Side, Fred’s is the perfect place to pair with a stroll in Central Park, or a visit to the American Museum of Natural History.

We highly recommend Fred’s as a quintessential New York brunch spot on the Upper West Side. Not only was Fred’s more accommodating and understanding than other places we’ve tried, but it was also delicious and well-priced. We plan on returning for Sunday brunch when the weather gets better, and we don’t mind waiting in line. As for Bear, he was reluctant to leave his new favorite brunch spot, and wonders if they might display his picture on the wall. Apparently having a blog that primarily features his furry face is just not enough!