It was one of the first crisp, beautiful fall Sundays in Manhattan this year. The leaves were starting to change color, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky … and I was completely and utterly hungover.
It was one of those hangovers where you just want to stay curled up in bed, your head under the covers, and not get up for hours. But there was no way I was missing out on this beautiful day—plus, Becca and I had already made plans to meet her friend Joel of What Do I Wear? for brunch at Bespoke Kitchen in the West Village.
The lovely folks at Bespoke Kitchen had been nice enough to invite us in to try the new brunch menu. The restaurant itself just opened in September 2015, so it’s fairly new, and with a brand-new brunch menu to boot.
Another fun fact: Chef Franco Barrio won an episode of Chopped! Thus, I was expecting incredibly unique dishes with funky ingredients.
I arrived at the adorable Bespoke Kitchen a few minutes late due to my aforementioned state. Tucked into a small storefront in the West Village, the restaurant was very brightly lit with lots of natural light, abstract artwork, and other modern accents. I greeted Becca and Joel, who had already ordered a coffee and a cappuccino, as they were anticipating a long day with a photo shoot at The Whitney that afternoon.
I needed a cocktail. Bespoke Kitchen offers a brunch special, where you receive one entree plus unlimited mimosas, bellinis, and Bloody Marys for $40. But since we wanted to sample a bit of everything, we ordered our bevvies a la carte. If you decide to go this route, the drinks run from $9 to $15 a pop.
Joel was on a cleanse, so he decided to stick with his cappuccino and water. Becca and I, on the other hand, both needed some Hair of the Dog. We both love Bloody Marys, so we went with the Bespoke Bloody, the restaurant’s homemade blend of local heirloom tomatoes, spices, and your choice of vodka or tequila.
The cocktails arrived topped with a chunk of what looked to be seasoned roast beef, olives, and a pickled red onion. They were presented beautifully, and tasted just as good as they looked. The homemade heirloom mix gave this Bloody a hint of sweetness. This may very well be one of the best Bloodys I’ve had since moving to the city, and I would definitely come back just for this unique spin on a typical brunch cocktail.
Alas, we couldn’t rely just on cocktails. We also needed some sustenance, so we ordered some biscuit bites and a bacon tasting to share.
The biscuit bites were exactly what they sound like they would be: fried chicken and gravy, served on medium-sized, flaky biscuits. Being a Southern girl at heart, I love anything involving fried chicken, gravy, or biscuits, so this dish was right up my alley. The biscuits tasted homemade and weren’t dry. The fried chicken was flavorful and juicy. And the gravy added the hint of sauce that the dish needed.
The bacon tasting was also exactly what it sounds like it would be: a plate full of three different kinds of bacon. Every Bitch’s dream! There was braised maple bacon, molasses pork belly, and lamb bacon. It was easy to tell which one was the pork belly, as it was cut into a large rectangle, rather than your typical bacon strips. This was my favorite of the three.
The pork belly was smoky and delicious, and the molasses drizzle was the perfect, sweet complement to the savoriness of the meat. I had a hard time telling a difference between the other two bacons, while Joel could immediately tell which one was the lamb bacon. Once he pointed out which was which, I realized that the lamb variety had a more “gamey” taste than the braised maple bacon.
At this point, I had drained my Bespoke Bloody and was ready to sample another craft cocktail before we got our entrees. I ordered the Pilsner Punch, just because I was feeling daring, and it sounded interesting. This cocktail consisted of pilsner beer, served over ice with orange juice, hot sauce, and a hint of lime.
Sadly, our server admitted when he brought the drink over that the bartender had not been left the exact recipe for this cocktail, as this was their first weekend serving brunch. While I’m sure he did his best, it was way too spicy! I was hoping for something reminiscent of a Michelada, but what I got was a throat full of spice and the risk of heartburn. I would be willing to give this cocktail another shot, however, only if the bartender promised he had the recipe on hand.
After the Pilsner Punch hiccup, our entrees arrived. Becca ordered the Ribeye Benedict, an eggs benny topped with ribeye, wild mushrooms, and a chimichurri hollandaise. While this dish sounded promising, her poached eggs were incredibly undercooked—they were so jiggly when the server brought this dish to the table, I was worried they were going to explode.
This was touted as the most popular dish on the menu. But once Becca cut into it, the plate quickly turned into a ribeye-and-egg soup, which was not very appetizing to look at. And the ribeye was pretty fatty, making for an awkward brunch dish.
Joel ordered the Croast, which I was secretly eyeing throughout our brunch, wishing I had ordered this instead. This dish consisted of croissant french toast, smoked bacon, and abingdon market fruit. As I already mentioned, I was practically drooling over this dish (I mean, croissant french toast?! Come on!), but Joel said it was a bit too sweet for his taste.
I was the boring one on this particular Sunday, and ordered a New York brunch staple—the Gravalax Bagel. It was house-cured Skuna Bay salmon and tartare cream cheese, served on an everything bagel with a side of smashed potatoes.
While I appreciated that Bespoke Kitchen apparently knew my favorite bagel flavor, I wish the bagel itself had been toasted. Instead, it was served un-toasted and cold. Also, the salmon didn’t taste smoked, which wasn’t what I was expected. The smashed potatoes were smashed to death, and really underseasoned. All in all, this dish was below average.
The Bitches Say: C+. Bespoke Kitchen has a lovely atmosphere with unique cocktails and delicious brunch appetizers, but the actual brunch entrees left more to be desired.
615 ½ Hudson St.
New York, NY 10014
Bespoke Kitchen serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.