My favorite part of brunch is the opportunity to prolong a previous night’s festivities with friends and reminisce about slightly hazy memories over breakfast vodka, carb-loaded plates, and a lot of caffeine.
I had the privilege recently of celebrating the wedding of my dear friends at the Plaza. It was an extravagant black-tie affair that had us dancing until the sun rose. The overindulgence led itself to a very necessary brunch event: hello, Joseph Leonard.
We must have looked like we needed to be served immediately (one of our brunchers was in his tuxedo from the night before) because we were greeted by a very accommodating hostess and minimal wait time despite our large group number. This is even more impressive because Joseph Leonard only has about seven tables in the whole restaurant.
We were off to a good start.
This gem of a destination has been on my list for a while, but its no-reservation policy has been a deterrent. Our leap of faith was well worth it. The size of Joseph Leonard equated to an intimate experience with hands-on, attentive service and close quarters for sharing food and memories. It is equal parts bar and restaurant, and it’s decorated to make you feel at home. This is a cozy West Village atmosphere you want to share with loved ones, and it offers the promise of feel-good food.
We kicked off brunch with a spicy and delicious side of country fried bacon with honey and Tabasco sauce, a welcome wake up for our tastebuds. Of course, this had to be washed down by a cocktail, so I ordered the Bloody Mary No 20 with cilantro-infused vodka, which came with a beer chaser bonus.
Bloody Marys confuse me. I really want to love them, but I end up only loving the first five sips and then I’m unable to finish the rest. A few sips wasn’t cutting it today, so we strategically also ordered the Magdalena, a tequila cocktail saturated with Poblano pepper. I finished both, and the beer chaser. Then I noticed they were serving fancy coffee in a French press, so I ordered that, too. It was all just simply incredible.
The main event was two shared entrees: the egg sandwich on a croissant with Manchego cheese, bacon and Brussels sprouts, and the avocado toast. I could never be satisfied with just one entree, so I’m lucky my boyfriend is a willing sharer.
Let’s talk sandwich first—a solid brunch option that was a safe but satisfying plate. The Manchego cheese and the croissant made it more special than a regular breakfast sandwich, but the side of shredded Brussels sprouts with Siracha was what really stole the show.
The avocado toast was exactly as it sounds- it comes with two eggs (I chose scrambled), and is seasoned with lemon and chili flakes. It was a great, comforting dish and I’m a sucker for anything avocado, but it was a breakfast I could have easily made at home. Joseph Leonard thinks so too—they have the recipe listed on their website here. Regardless, if you love avocado toast then you will love theirs the most.
I was happy to also try my friend’s marinated heirloom tomatoes dish with poached eggs, Parmesan, basil and country bread. Tomatoes were in their prime season, and while a liquidy entree wasn’t appealing enough for me to make a breakfast commitment after a night of one too many liquids, I savored the fresh burst of flavors.
The meal had come to a close and I was feeling a little sad that I’d overloaded on savory and missed out on a brioche French toast, when complimentary bite-sized homemade chocolate chip cookies arrived with our check. Nothing like sweetening us up before we tip! I appreciated the surprise ending that I didn’t have to feel guilty about ordering, and it very much confirmed that this is a place I will be returning to for brunch.
The Bitches say: A. Great ambiance, classic brunch entrees with a twist, very memorable cocktails, and a gem of a location.
170 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10014
(646) 429 8383
Joseph Leonard serves brunch 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.