Peels Brunch

There’s something inherently surprising about stumbling into a charming little Southern spot in the middle of New York City. I felt that way about Penelope, a bright white-and-sky-blue cottage nestled in the middle of Murray Hill mere footsteps from Lindsey’s apartment.

Penelope serves up affordable Southern brunch in a cottage ambiance—low ceilings, wooden tables and benches, plenty of baked goods—right in the middle of Midtown. You just don’t expect to see ladies waiting on white-washed wooden benches for brunch in the center of the City.

I felt similarly about Peels; I was just surprised to find it in the East Village. It was bitter cold, when Lindsey, Dani, and I strolled in. Upon entering Peels, I felt I was in Raleigh, Charleston, or Savannah, not New York City.

I felt I should be wearing a floral sundress—from Anthropologie or Lilly Pulitzer—rather than ripped up designer jeans, booties, and a studded bag. This was the South, and we were at brunch, and my sensibilities were totally turned topsy turvy.

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Peels is essentially a Southern bakery and café, with wooden floors and benches and white-washed walls and a charming café bar, where you’d expect old truckers with Southern drawls to be perched upon the barstools but instead you find the stylish waifs of the East Village. There’s a lovely bakery when you enter, but we were whisked back to a little corner booth.

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The ambiance was lively—the room was filled with the din of upbeat chatter. Nestled in our corner, on hard-yet-not-uncomfortable wooden chairs, we had plenty of time to catch up on our lives away from it all. Our waitress was attentive without being obtrusive, my preferred style of service.

The menu is true Southern cuisine yet there is something for every palate.

We started with a fruit salad, composed of cubed apples, pineapple chunks, banana slices, grapes, and pomegranate seeds. The pomegranate was a nice touch and paired well with the apples and bananas.

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Both Lindsey and Dani opted for the spa eggs, an egg white omelet with spinach and goat cheese. Lindsey says, “It was perfectly cooked with the right amount of cheese to egg ratio (it’s important!). The brunch was filling, yummy, and affordable. Check!”

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Meanwhile, I ordered the shrimp ‘n’ grits, as it is one of my favorite dishes and, in the name of duty, the dish must be ordered when at a Southern brunch. The grits were moist, flavorful, and properly cooked.

The sauce was delicious, the shrimp fresh, and the entire dish was topped off with a lovely sunny side up egg, which oozed all over the grits upon first bite. The dish was comforting and filling without being heavy. Both of my Bitches had a bite and admitted the flavor. The dish was really well done.

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While these grits aren’t as phenomenal as the shrimp ‘n’ grits at Ben’s Next Door in the District, they were darn delicious.

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As she is also a Southern belle, Danielle also ordered a side of cheese grits, which was enormous. Like the shrimp ‘n’ grits, these grits were perfection, and though I had plenty of my own, I couldn’t help going back for a second bite of hers.

Because this is a Southern spot, I knew I had to try the biscuits. I ordered a simple, single biscuit, and requested butter and honey. The biscuit was a classic, buttery, flaky, perfect Southern biscuit. Thank goodness, or else Peels would be in trouble.

The Bitches say: A-. Affordable, delicious Southern cuisine in the East Village.

Peels NYC
325 Bowery
New York, New York
(646) 602- 7015

Peels on Urbanspoon

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