There are two different approaches to the New York food scene: try “everything” once or find your three to five go-to spots and become a regular. As a food blogger I definitely fall into the first camp, although I see the appeal of having friendly neighborhood spots where everyone knows your name.
This is exactly how I found myself brunching at Dirty French in the Ludlow Hotel on a recent Saturday afternoon. My brunching partner Mark, an old friend from DC, lives nearby and frequents the Ludlow Hotel’s lobby for drinks and working sessions. Neither of us had dined at this Major Food Group venture so the general manager, now chummy with Mark, invited us in to sample the menu.
The Ludlow Hotel has a trendy, vintage vibe, which translated over to the ambiance at Dirty French. The relatively expansive restaurant is chic with quirky accents and hot pink flourishes. We were seated immediately and tucked into the essentials—coffee and cocktails.
Brunch cocktails are sold by the carafe or punchbowl so we tried a jug of the classic Bloody Mary. I usually can’t muster more than a few sips of a Bloody Mary, but found this housemade mix quite palatable. It was zesty, refreshing, and had an even consistency. After one glass, I switched over to bubbly out of personal preference.
Dirty French presents all of its diners with a beautiful cake tray of complimentary breakfast pastries. The baked goods looked gorgeous and were easy to share. My favorite of the sampling was the gooey monkey bread, but I only allowed myself a few bites because of the impending feast.
Without prompting, the kitchen brought out an impressive seafood spread. This was to my absolute delight because I oddly like really fishy dishes first thing in the morning. We slurped down some oysters and shrimp skewers, which was a light and fresh way to start our meal.
From this point on, the conversation, food, and drinks kept flowing. I normally don’t get too jazzed about a fruit bowl, but Dirty French had the most beautiful fruit bowl presentation that I’ve ever seen. Exotic fruits were served inside a pineapple, no paltry melon cubes were in sight. I don’t know if he’ll admit it, but this may have been Mark’s favorite dish of the day.
Another highlight of the meal was the Scottish salmon rillette served alongside adorable mini toast. We appreciated the generous serving of fish and found that the pink peppercorn provided a great pop of flavor. I easily polished off the serving, but didn’t feel too weighed down.
The appetizers were the stars of the show; we found that the main dishes were good, but not particularly memorable.
Since this is a French bistro, I wasn’t miffed by a small omelette, but thought that the eggs were overpowered by the (almost too) creamy fromage blanc. I would have preferred a higher egg to filling ratio, especially since this dish is rather pricey.
Mark selected the duck hash topped with fried eggs. He had high praises for the dish and thought it was rich and hearty, as a duck hash should be. No complaints here.
At our friendly server’s insistence, we also picked at the eggs Benedict. We loved the decadent brown butter hollandaise, but unfortunately the English muffin was like a hockey puck and impossible to cut through. It made this dish extremely difficult to eat and we ended up ditching the carbs, probably for the best.
To end our meal on a sweet note, the kitchen surprised us with yet another dish–a pineapple and banana tart served with rum raisin ice cream. The sweetness of the tart was balanced with the more savory ice cream and we managed to make an impressive dent in this tasty treat.
At this point, we needed to be practically rolled out of the eatery. We didn’t have to move too far as we relocated to Mark’s jump off, the Ludlow Lobby, for an afternoon with our laptops (#entrepreneurlife).
The Bitches say: B. Great apps and drinks, but we didn’t think the main courses warranted the steep price tag.
Dirty French (at the Ludlow Hotel)
180 Ludlow St.
New York, NY
(Lower East Side)
Dirty French serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.