With all of the hidden treasures throughout New York, I can confidently say that Irving Place is one of my favorite pockets of the city. I hold a special place in my heart for this quaint street in Gramercy. When I first moved to the city, I made the short trek from my tiny fifth-floor walk up apartment in the East Village to my Union Square office and intentionally walked down Irving during my daily commute. I’d treat myself to a fancy coffee from 71 Irving Place on Fridays and a fresh juice from Pure Food & Wine on the occasional lunch break.
During this time period, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about my New York move. Even now that I’m a more seasoned New Yorker, I still go a bit out of my way to stroll down Irving. Since my boyfriend lives in Gramercy, I’m frequently in close proximity to the street, which made Friend of a Farmer an easy choice when we were seeking a neighborhood brunch.
Friend of a Farmer has a perpetual long line of eager brunchers waiting outside so expect at least a 45-minute wait on the weekends. We were eventually seated on the second floor of the sunny eatery. We had ample time to soak in the homey, comfortable ambiance since service was extremely slow. To be fair, the restaurant was packed with patrons, but it took 15 minutes to initially meet our server.
Coffee was a must to turn our lazy Saturday into a productive afternoon so I quickly ordered a soy latte, while Andrew went with a simple iced coffee. Andrew literally spit out his first sip of coffee because he received a mouthful of coffee grounds, which must have sourced from the bottom of a French press. He received a fresh coffee, but this gave our brunch an ominous beginning.
After the long wait in line, we appeased our rumbling stomachs with an order of the homemade granola to start. The tart low-fat yogurt was piled high with granola, strawberries, and blueberries. However, it was served with one spoon although we specified that we intended to share this dish. As a former waitress, this is a huge pet peeve of mine! It wouldn’t have been a major issue except it took awhile to eventually track down another utensil from the staff.
My Farmer’s Market egg white omelet was stuffed with spinach, sautéed mushrooms, and gooey cheddar cheese. The vegetables were fresh and plentiful, which are my two top criteria for omelet fillings. The eggs were served alongside home fries, which were tasty with a peppery kick.
How can you not order an entrée with a name like Weston’s Wonderful Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes? The pancakes lived up to that grandiose title and truly tasted wonderful. They were simultaneously sweet and flavorful while soft and light, and could be easily enjoyed without syrup. We loved the hint of cinnamon in the batter and the generous serving of ripe blueberries.
To counter his sugar-coated main dish, Andrew also ordered a side of savory homemade sausage. Unfortunately, this side completely missed the mark. The protein was extremely dry and fell apart in our mouths like sand, rendering it practically inedible. I hope this batch of sausage was an outlier since the rest of our food was quite satisfying.
We leisurely finished our coffees and basked in the warmth of the two roaring fireplaces as we closed out our check. Off we went and I frolicked back along Irving Place, again absorbing some of the New York magic I hold dear to this locale.
The Bitches say: B-. We had high hopes for this eatery based on the ceaseless brunch line outside, but found it a bit over-hyped. The main dishes were tasty overall, but the small mistakes and inconsistencies added up.
Friend of a Farmer
77 Irving Place
New York, New York 10001
Friend of a Farmer serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.