For a restaurant that has been as enduring in the New York City dining scene as Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that this institution has long evaded me even though it has perennially been on my personal restaurant hit list. Maybe it is the fact that this place or its menu doesn’t evoke the same excitement as the other newcomers that tout all sorts of creative ideas and techniques at the kitchen, or that Prune has been primarily known for brunch and I’m just not into brunch due to its generally boring menus. In any event, I admit after a recent Sunday brunch with my wife Jun and other friends we had known for a long time that I should’ve checked out Prune way earlier, despite the long wait time during the no-reservations brunch hours (we all arrived at 2 p.m. and waited for close to an hour).
The brunch menu at Prune doesn’t look that much different from other run-of-the-mill restaurants in the city. It is really the careful execution and attention to ingredients that makes Prune an extra special brunch destination. If you are in a large group, by all means order the Dutch style pancake with pears, served with Canadian bacon, powdered sugar and maple syrup. You may feel guilty by the calorie amount that goes into this dish, but will soon forget about your weight issue once you take the first bite (although Jun noted the pancake’s texture could’ve been a little bit softer). The eggs benedict with Hollandaise sauce, Canadian bacon and potatoes rosti (a variant of hash browns) was also quite solid, and the fresh ricotta with raspberries, figs, toasted pine nuts and honey serves as a great complement to the other meatier / heavier dishes.
On the other hand, egg “en cocotte” with savory chicken and buttered white toast, despite the promising look initially, was somewhat pedestrian. My favorite of the menu during our meal was the simple steak and eggs with toasted English muffin and potatoes rosti. I normally lament the fact that American restaurants tend to put too much seasoning into steak, but the one at Prune had great balance in flavor, making the aptly grilled medium rare meat shine even more (Jun forbade me from touching the toasted English muffin though out of health concerns). Overall, it was a very satisfying meal for a group of six and we took a leisurely stroll in downtown Manhattan afterwards.
As noted above, Prune doesn’t take reservations during brunch hours, so if you want to beat the crowd, either come on the earlier side of the morning or mid-afternoon. There was some brunch cocktails and juices (somehow, the prune juice has already run out) that could nicely complement your meal. The warm and inviting vibe of the dining space is another plus to the brunch experience (although, due to our size, we had to be seated at the basement next to the restrooms). Prune is one of those places that, no matter when you go, you don’t feel like you’ll have a bad meal. I would definitely like to check out the restaurant in the future for dinner next time.
KenScale: 8.0/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.0/10)
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 54 East 1st Street, New York, NY 10003
Telephone: (212) 677-6221