When I first moved to New York a little over a year ago, I quickly realized that each neighborhood has its own stereotype and personality. Murray Hill? Full of 21 year old frat guys in group apartments. SoHo? Fashionistas and trust fund babies. Upper West Side? New families with strollers in tow.
I know these are just stereotypes and I don’t discriminate, so I make a concerted effort to put myself out there and brunch all over the boroughs. As such, the BF and I ventured up Amsterdam Avenue to brunch with one of our favorite couples who reside in the UWS.
We originally intended to feast at Jacob’s Pickles, a neighborhood mainstay, but rethought our plans when faced with a two hour wait. Wandering a bit aimlessly down the street, I stumbled upon a bright chalkboard sign denoting a “Surfer Sunday” brunch. As we reviewed the menu Andrew realized that he had previously dined at Ditch Plains for dinner months ago in its West Village location. Swayed by his positive review and the adorable beachy decor, we saddled up to the bar for some Bloody Marys during the comparably short thirty minute wait.
Ditch Plains is a “New York-style oyster bar and fish shack” that pays homage to a longboard triumph by restaurateur and chef Marc Murphy at Ditch Plains Beach in Montauk. The vintage surf videos playing on repeat behind the bar, driftwood accents, and floor-to-ceiling windows seemed straight out of Surf Lodge, so I deemed that this restaurant was quite authentic.
Back to neighborhood stereotypes. Ditch Plains’ Upper West Side location was also authentically UWS; we counted literally twelve Bugaboo strollers parked in the restaurant’s entryway. Twelve. The fact that a Manhattan establishment could fit that many strollers in one place is impressive alone. Needless to say, this spacious eatery was extremely family-friendly. Numerous birthday parties were occurring simultaneously as young children were captivated by the weekend cartoons playing on mini-TVs over the tables.
We were ushered to a more “adult” area of the restaurant where we could finish our morning cocktails sans judgment. With pickles still on the mind, we promptly ordered the fried pickles and deviled eggs to start per our friendly server’s recommendation.
Our server pointed us in the right direction. Our friend Ravelle even made the bold pronouncement that she thought these fried pickles were better than Jacob’s. While this may seem like blasphemy to some, especially the poor souls who put up with the two hour wait, we truly enjoyed this appetizer. The pickles were thinly sliced and had a balanced batter-to-veggie ratio. Far too many fried pickles are weighed down by excessive breading. The tartar sauce on the side added a nice pop of flavor as well.
The deviled eggs were equally tasty, but rather ordinary. The dish was well seasoned although not particularly imaginative.
As good married couples do, Myles and Ravelle compromised and split two entrees. For their savory main, they tag teamed the breakfast tacos. Three soft tortillas were generously filled with heaping portions of eggs, sausage, cheddar cheese, pickled onions, and salsa. Guacamole was optional as a topping, but honestly, who opts out of anything avocado?! As Arizona natives, Myles and Andrew have high standards for Mexican food and both gave this dish a thumbs up.
After seeing a waiter exiting the kitchen with a monstrosity of a French toast dish in hand, Ravelle knew she had to try it. From afar, this entree looked like an entire loaf of bread. There was luckily more than enough to share, like she even had a choice, so we all had a chance to sample this sweet treat. The French toast was surprisingly light and fluffy despite its enormous, dense-looking exterior. But again, there wasn’t anything especially creative about this traditional brunch entree besides its size.
I was currently detoxing from a gluttonous week-long vacation and was in desperate need of greens so I ordered the seafood Cobb salad. The salad contained the standard Cobb fixings–avocado, tomato, egg, bacon–topped with poached salmon and shrimp. The seafood was a bit lost in the salad, but I did appreciate the large portion size of salad overall.
In the end, I was glad that I opted for a salad because we went on a “dessert crawl” of the Upper West Side on our journey back to lower Manhattan. Treat House and Levain Bakery were within a few blocks; when in Rome, right?
The Bitches say: B. The food was tasty, but I expected more exciting eats from this fun restaurant theme. Great for the under age five set!
100 W. 82nd St.
New York, NY 10024
(Upper West Side)
Ditch Plains serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 11 a.m.