With so many restaurants here in New York, it’s easy to judge a book by its cover. I’ll automatically dismiss an establishment that uses a Comic Sans typeface and anything less than an A rating displayed in the window? “Fuggedaboutit.”
I had walked past Pounds & Ounces in Chelsea many times and always assumed it was a sports bar. I really have no idea why; from the exterior it doesn’t really look like a sports bar, but the name has always sounded a bit gastropub-y to me.
I was invited to brunch by Shelley, a PR gal who represents the restaurant, and was immediately whisked to our table by an outgoing host up front. Upon stepping foot in the establishment, it was clear this wasn’t a sports bar.
The interior was quite striking with a sprawling, ornate wood bar, old-school tile flooring, and a funky mural across the back walls. Pounds & Ounces also has plenty of outdoor seating for smaller groups, but we stayed inside because of inclement weather.
First things first, cocktails. Pounds & Ounces offers a bottomless special of unlimited brunch cocktails for $28. You have your pick between a variety of mimosa flavors, Bloody Marys, or the cucumber basil lemonade spiked with vodka.
Shelley stuck with white wine, but I sampled both the blood orange and pomegranate mimosas. I appreciated that the eatery offers an assortment of juices since far too often we’re stuck with sticky sweet OJ. I enjoyed both beverages; neither were too sweet and both quite refreshing.
I’m one of those crazy people who reads menus before they go to a restaurant and plans out their orders days in advance. After checking out Pounds & Ounces’ brunch menu online, I knew an indulgent feast would ensue and pregamed our brunch with a seven-mile run (#FitBitches)…and boy, I’m glad I did.
The brunch menu was recently revamped by executive chef Margaret LaVetty and features many playful twists on brunch mainstays such as waffle battered chicken pops – a twist on chicken and waffles, breakfast pizza, a smoked salmon club sandwich, and Benny In-A-Hole – a combination of eggs in a hole and eggs Benedict. There’s even an entire section of the menu dedicated to stuffed challah French toast.
I find something strangely delicious about raw fish for breakfast so the ahi tuna nachos were a no brainer. The starter quickly arrived at our table and knocked it out of the park. The kitchen didn’t skimp on the ahi tuna and the crispy wonton chips were stacked high with layers of seaweed salad, edamame, pickled ginger, avocado, and wasabi cream.
From a flavor profile perspective, there was nothing missing from this Asian-inspired dish and I had to hold myself back from filling up on the generous serving size.
Next to our table were the waffle battered chicken pops, total Instagram porn. I loved this inventive take on chicken and waffles; the fried chicken wings were covered in waffle batter and drizzled with a hot buffalo sauce. This was the perfect balance of savory and sweet and very easy to share with a group.
By this time, my appetite was satisfied, but Shelley and I powered through. The breakfast burrito caught both of our eyes and we split it right down the middle. This hefty main course was stuffed with scrambled eggs, bacon, guacamole, and lettuce, but it was the biggest disappointment of the meal. It wasn’t very flavorful or memorable.
Our favorite bite of the day was unanimously the breakfast pizza. When it arrived, I didn’t even recognize it as pizza; the thin crust was buried below layers of gooey eggs, chorizo, cheese, avocado, and hollandaise sauce. The crust admittedly didn’t hold up very well against the heavy toppings so we knifed and forked it. Although it was different than any other type of breakfast pizza I’ve had in the past, there was something about how all of the flavors came together that sang in our mouths. This was the one course that we completely cleaned the plate.
And what’s brunch without a little something sweet for dessert? It was tough to choose between the various stuffed challah French toast combinations, but ultimately we landed on the brie & fig per chef Margaret’s recommendation. This little slice of heaven was slathered in brie, fig jam, and candied walnuts topped with a black-pepper balsamic reduction.
Brie and fig is a tried and true combination and didn’t disappoint when applied to this fluffy French toast. My only qualm was that the brie flavor was overpowered, but it did lend a nice creamy texture to the dish. Don’t come to Pounds & Ounces without trying the French toast.
The Bitches say: B+. Inventive food, aesthetically pleasing ambiance, and a bottomless deal. We’re sold!
Pounds & Ounces
160 8th Ave.
New York, NY
Pounds & Ounces serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.