The one thing I love more than a bottomless brunch is a really, really big group bottomless brunch. Not only is it typically cost-effective for your Bitch posse, but the wait staff is armed and ready with ample pitchers of mimosas, ‘90s rap, and understanding glances as we play essentially a game of tipsy musical chairs while trying to catch up with friends around the table.
At least, this is the case if you’re brunching at the East Village’s Poco with twenty of your nearest and dearest college friends.
That’s right—twenty. All of my fellow Manhattanites should be able to relate to what a nightmare it is to plan for sizable group meals for an entire weekend in the city. A group of my sorority sisters came to visit from Chicago, so we had to show them what we do best in the City That Never Sleeps: remedy long New York City nights out with even longer New York City boozy brunches.
Luckily, Poco was able to accommodate our large party with a long table in its cavernous basement and the staff didn’t flinch as stragglers in the group slowly joined our reservation 45 minutes late still wiping the paint from Riff Raff’s off their cheeks from Friday night. Yup, it was that kind of morning.
Poco didn’t offer any kind of bread basket with their brunch special so we opted for an assortment of unlimited mimosas, red and white sangria, and Bloody Marys to get this party started. The Bloodies had a bit of a kick to them, but the entire group quickly switched to mimosas after we were provided with dozens of pitchers for the table and courteous toppers of champagne from our server. These pours of pure bubbly were key to avoid the trap of an overdose on sugary orange juice that we’ve experienced in many past bottomless brunches.
The brunch menu featured a variety of classic Spanish choices, American standbys, and hearty sandwiches. With a group this large, we collectively tried just about everything on the menu.
Meghan’s truffled mushroom omelet was well worth the $2 upcharge. She touted that it contained the perfect amount of truffle and the eggs were fluffy. She thoroughly enjoyed the home fries on the side but didn’t touch her wilted greens. As a common theme to the meal, we all agreed that the side salads did not add anything to our entrees and were a bit of a waste.
I came to this afternoon brunch with an appetite, and after some internal debate—I am a Gemini after all—finally settled on the steak, egg n cheese sandwich. The crisp baguette was the perfect vehicle for the sandwich fillings, and I found the steak-to-egg ratio proportional. The sandwich was dressed with a creamy avocado spread, a healthy alternative to mayonnaise on not the healthiest of breakfast choices, and provided a fresh bite of flavor.
The portion size was spot on, and I left the restaurant comfortably satisfied. Similarly to Meghan’s findings, I loved the home fries, but picked at my greens.
As a resident Bro Who Brunches, I can always count on my boyfriend, Andrew, to order the token carnivorous dish on the menu. He cleaned his plate of chorizo hash, which contained a generous amount of spicy chorizo, a heaping scoop of home fries, and perfectly fried eggs on top. This hearty dish was the perfect start to a long afternoon of mimosas and Saturday afternoon football.
Natalie went the healthy route and ordered the Poco Salad. Her pulled chicken was cooked well and juicy, and she especially enjoyed the goat cheese on top with a scattering of almonds and raisins. However, she wished this dish contained a variety of vegetables rather than the lone salad greens.
Even though only half of our party was visiting New York, we all were in vacation mode and collectively devoured Brittany’s thick-cut French toast. The balanced dish was simultaneously crispy and soft, and extremely filling. The crème sauce on top made the bananas a bit soggy, but overall the French toast kept its structure. Regardless of texture, the entire plate was clean within minutes.
Finally, what is brunch without a little lobster mac n’ cheese? In this instance, it was a lot of lobster mac. Casey went for the gold and ordered this gem, which she was pleased to report was filled with generous pieces of lobster. Nothing is more disheartening than ordering a lobster dish served with a skimpy cut of crustacean. The pasta shells were slathered in a rich blend of cheeses and crusted with panko. Casey’s one qualm was that the dish was lukewarm by the time she was served.
The Bitches say: B+. Perfect for large groups, particularly in regards to price and atmosphere. The ambiance is no frills, but the music is loud and catchy. Come for the generous, bottomless pours from a friendly staff and filling food, but the dishes aren’t particularly noteworthy or unique.
Poco serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. (212) 228-4461