This is going to be Brunchtacular!

If I didn’t go out of town this past weekend, I would have been the first in line at the Greenpoint Brunchtacular.

On April 27th noon to 3pm, a group called Rally Downtown (created after Superstorm Sandy to help businesses recover and non-profits succeed) organized the ultimate brunch event.

I’m talking Brooklyn favorites like AnellaBrooklyn Label, and Ovenly… all in one place.

Greenpoint and Williamsburg restaurants gathered together at t.b.d. in Greenpoint for a three hour ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT brunch with bottomless mimosas. t.b.d also has a back yard area, which is good to keep in mind for this long awaited spring the summer weather we finally have.

Check it out here for future events.

-Caitlin Heikkila

The Birthday Brunch. Part II

My 20 person birthday brunch: Gusto, on Greenwich Ave btwn 7th Ave & Perry St. (For the one-on-one birthday brunch Part I post, see here)

While I originally planned to rent half of the back section of Bread in SoHo, ultimately the price at Gusto was just impossible to beat. I wanted my friends to have more food and more booze for their money. Gusto has a $22 prix fixe which includes an Appetizer, an Entree, and Unlimited Mimosa’s and Bloodys. It was a no-brainer.

The other thing that sealed the deal was the fact that Gusto has a space in the back with 4 round tables and booths. (Booth’s make everything better don’t they?!) Fully packed, the space can fit 28 seated. It’s not a completely closed off space so you don’t feel isolated, but you do feel like you are there with your group primarily.

Gusto’s back section would also be great for a social or even a “networking” brunch where you would want a “stand-greet-cocktail” situation before you sit down. Going to Gusto for this year’s large group birthday brunch was just easy.

In summary, Gusto is: *Great prix fix deal, *Good option for birthday party group brunch, *Great back section for group events, *The banana bread pudding (PANE AFFOGATO vinsanto & cinnamon soaked Italian toast with caramelized bananas) rocks. *And, the Chocolate cake with butterscotch compote is a birthday girl’s dream.

I’m thinking of throwing a larger brunch party in Gusto’s back section since the space just works. It will be for BrunchCritic fans. Stay tuned.

Map & Photos: Gusto Ristorante e Bar Americano

The Birthday Brunch. Part I.

It’s true. I’ve turned another year older as of last weekend. The old adage may say I’ve turned “another year wiser,” but frankly I think I’m the anomaly if that’s true. Clearly I’m going to analyze this at the BrunchTable in the near future.

Anyways the point of this post is to share where I invited friends to join me in celebration. My birthday weekend consisted of two awesome brunches. One more intimate, and one more celebratory. Today’s brunch is about the former, Burger & Barrel. Sunday’s post will be about the latter.

Burger & Barrel (B & B), on Houston btwn Mercer & Greene.  I met an old friend who I hadn’t seen in ages at B & B. It is owned by the same team behind Lure Fishbar and Merc Bar, and I’ve been wanting to try it for a while. (Oh and I guess the proprietors have a thing for only owning places with “Bar” in the name…? Actually now that I think about it, “Brunch Bar” would be a cool name for a place…).

Anyways. The menu has multiple bloody Mary options beyond the classic vodka & tomato juice version. That always keeps things spicy, no pun intended. Everyone seated around us seemed to have at least one burger on the table, and it is probably because when the waiters walk by with it on a tray, your head turns and follows along, as everything somehow moves in slow motion.  It’s a big burger, and the bun is topped with two huge onion rings made steady by a toothpick. The best plate on the menu was the French Toast Sticks.  Excellent in flavor, but also great for sharing. If you are like me and always want both sweet and savory, ordering these are an ideal way to get that small “sweet,” without getting a larger dish and then the resulting sugar-coma.

The crowd is mixed, so is is a good choice for any type of party young or old. At the end of the day, this brunch was about having the opportunity to see a very dear, old friend. I was actually thrilled with my pick. It was the perfect atmosphere for our catch up.

In Summary, Burger & Barrel (B & B) is:

*A Good place for catching up with an old friend, *The crowd has a mix of people & ages,  *Has a notable Burger,  *Serves great French Toast Sticks, *Great for a group of 4, * and Has a fair number of baby strollers (which was fitting, since my friend is preggers).

I will be back to B & B next time I need a spot nearby the shopping in SoHo or when seeing a flick at the Angelika. It’s perfectly located next to both.

B & B photos and map: here

(For the one-on-one birthday brunch Part II post, see here)

Group Brunching & Planning Group Events

BrunchCritic receives a lot of inquiries about planning large group events, namely graduation parties, baby & bridal showers, and company events. What know is that it is a pain to get accurate and easily accessible information on what restaurant venues are great for hosting these events. While a lot of restaurants have private or semi-private rooms for a special event, people get shuffled around between the hostess stand, managers and event directors when looking for specific information. Restaurants require prix fixes, increased gratuity, and have other specific requirements. We’ve found that people don’t have time to do all the research and compare venues. So, we thought one of the most useful things we could do is provide all this information in one concise Guide. We did the work, so you don’t have to. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Group Events & Shower Brunching. It can be downloaded at this link, and best viewed as a PDF. As always, we want to be as helpful as possible!

Do women like brunch more than men?

Some would argue that men aren’t into brunch as much as women.

“It’s more of a girls thing,” I’ve heard. But, while I think the brunch ratio skews more to women than men in general, the fellas are still pretty big fans. And, we always have 50% men at all of our official BrunchCritic events. (They are smart. That’s where the ladies go, and that’s where the comfort food is). But an even bigger question I have is, what is it like to live with a brunch nut?

Fellow BC teammate, social media maven and Brooklyn resident, Caitlin Heikkila, got engaged a month ago. Now that the couple is in a more “comfortable” place in their relationship, I wanted to know what the relationship between Caitlin, her man, and brunch was really like. Is he a true fan? Here’s what she had to say:

Living with a Brunch Fanatic ( by Caitlin Heikkila) 

I’m lucky my fiancée loves brunch.

I’m happy we wake up each weekend morning craving spicy bloody Marys, mushroom and cheese-filled frittatas, and French toast topped with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

And as I lay out our brunch plans weeks in advance, he happily accompanies me, munching on crispy bacon and fluffy biscuits along the way.

“I HAVE to try Hunter’s for brunch—not this Saturday, or the following Saturday, but the Saturday after that,” I say as he whips out his iPhone, noting the date in the calendar.

I’m glad he doesn’t mind tasting omelet after omelet, and listening as I critique the fluffiness of each pancake and the tomato-to-horseradish ratio of the bloody Mary I’m sipping on.

I think he even appreciates the way I snap photos of my brunch dishes, crouching down and clearing the surrounding tables to get the best light on my granola bowl.

He’ll even cheer as I clap in delight over my discovery of an “unlimited brunch cocktails” deal on a leisurely Sunday afternoon. And he will gladly chug down a few mimosas to start the day– even if the glass looks a little dainty in his hand.

I swear, he likes chatting about the philosophy of choosing between the sweet versus the savory brunch and the considerations in making that decision. It is a big choice after all.

He might not express it out loud, but I can tell he has tears of joy on the inside when he sees that my eggs are cooked to over-easy perfection.

I’m lucky my fiancée loves brunch. Otherwise, I might have to rethink this whole “engaged” thing.

(by Caitlin Heikkila)