As a frequent bottomless bruncher, I’d like to take the opportunity to clear up one common misconception: not all boozy brunches are dance on the table, debaucherous affairs with mediocre food. Some of the best ones are, but it is also possible to keep it classy whilst sucking back pitchers of mimosas with your girlfriends.
Enter Barbounia in Union Square. I’m no stranger to Barbounia’s great happy hour and addictive crazy feta dip. However, it wasn’t even on my brunch radar until I was invited to a large-group get together one rainy Saturday afternoon. We were drawn in by the great drink specials and tasty flatbreads, so I knew if their bottomless brunch was anything like their lively happy hours, our group was in for a treat.
I met Molly and Sondra, two of my favorite gals from my Indiana University days, at the sunny, ivy-covered bar near the entrance of the eatery. We were the first three of the party to arrive and appreciated that the staff allowed us to start on the bottomless deal at the bar before the rest of the group joined us. For $18.95 you’ll receive champagne cocktails to your heart’s delight and throughout our meal we switched between the fresh mimosas and bellinis.
Despite the affordable bottomless option and an expansive restaurant size, Barbounia’s ambiance remained cozy and calm. We dined to the upbeat tunes of classic crooners like Frank Sinatra under the warmth of a wood burning oven and elaborate chandeliers.
The three of us were seated at a long table as we waited 45 minutes for six more of our extremely tardy friends to arrive. To Barbounia’s credit, we were never hassled about our friends’ late arrival or threatened with the removal of our table. Tables large enough for a party of six or more are a hot commodity in New York, so we truly appreciated the courteous service.
While we were waiting, we put in an order of spicy feta dip and Saganaki, since Sondra’s diet consists primarily of cheese. The spicy feta was so addicting that we reordered this starter when the remainder of our party arrived. The dip had a zippy pop of spice that we slathered all over pieces of fresh, soft bread. The Saganaki was served in the classic Mediterranean flaming style with a peach jam. It’s hard to criticize cheese, but we thought that this dish could have benefitted from a lemon’s acidity.
Molly is an adventurous world traveler and eater so she went with the green shakshuka. The dish featured baked eggs with creamed spinach, mozzarella, and Parmigiano reggiano. She found the entree authentic, but it lacked the bold Middle Eastern spices that she was accustomed to.
There are a variety of omelettes to choose from on the menu, but I ultimately selected the omelette with three of my favorite ingredients: spinach, mozzarella, and caramelized onions. The eggs were fluffy, but I would have preferred a more generous portion of caramelized onions. The eggs were served alongside delicious fingerling potatoes and a well-dressed salad.
Sondra went the simple route with scrambled eggs, home fries, and turkey bacon. Sondra was in cheese heaven when presented with a block of feta on the side. She loved her dish and easily cleaned the plate.
Our friends Brittany and Lindsey split the Margherita flatbread with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and fresh basil. The crisp pizza was a crowd-pleaser and was just as tasty as the varieties I had sampled during past happy hours, especially when topped with the spicy feta dip.
We easily spent four hours at Barbounia catching up over rounds of mimosas. Our server politely bought us a round of shots at the bar to coax us from our large table. We happily obliged and spent the rest of the afternoon mingling with twenty-somethings at the eatery.
The Bitches say: B. Some of the entrees were lacking bold Mediterranean flavors, but Barbounia is a great bottomless option in Union Square.
250 Park Ave. South
New York, NY
Barbounia serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.