It is indisputable that New York has a “brunch culture.” Try going to Clinton Street Baking Co. on a Saturday afternoon or stand in line at Dominique Ansel for a cronut if you don’t believe me. The Internet practically broke when an ugly rumor circulated that bottomless brunch in NYC was to be outlawed.
The hot restaurants of the moment aren’t just fully booked for the dinner crowd; it is becoming altogether more common to face a two+ hour-long wait for your organic, cage-free eggs and gluten-free, Ezekiel toast. Sometimes you just can’t wile away the precious morning hours waiting for a seat at the walk-in only restaurant du jour.
As was such on a recent Saturday afternoon. My friend Myles, who recently moved out to the ‘burbs, came into Manhattan for a morning WOD and a quick brunch with Andrew and me. He needed to catch a train out to Stamford, which immediately killed our plans to dine at nearby Egg Shop in the Lower East Side once we learned of the 90 minute minimum wait.
Our brunch criteria were moderately priced, tasty but relatively healthy fare at a restaurant with little to no wait, in Nolita no less. We were about to cop out and grab juices at the Butcher’s Daughter until we spotted a quaint eatery around the corner. I was drawn to the funky turquoise roof, upbeat soundtrack, and available outdoor seating. After quickly surveying Rintintin’s Middle Eastern inspired menu, we unanimously agreed that the restaurant met all of our needs.
There were only a few other patrons at Rintintin so we were promptly seated and provided with menus and a pitcher of water. Unfortunately, after taking our orders and disseminating our food, this was pretty much the only face time we had with our server.
The boys started with a drink, while I was a bit gun shy and stuck to water. Andrew ordered an IPA while Myles went with the Bloody Mary. Andrew’s beer was of course a beer and Myles thought the Bloody was pretty standard. Nothing out of the ordinary for either of the beverages, but certainly nothing was wrong with them.
Myles worked up an appetite from his morning Crossfit routine and was intrigued by the Shakshuka, a Middle Eastern dish that he wasn’t familiar with. Andrew and I reassured him that this regional specialty should be good since we were dining in a Middle Eastern restaurant and he took our advice. The dish was prepared traditionally with baked eggs in a tomato sauce and merguez sausage. Myles gave the hearty dish a thumbs up and cleaned his plate.
Andrew erred on the lunch side of the menu and ordered a specialty sandwich. His sandwich was basically a gourmet club with chicken, bacon, avocado, and greens. He enjoyed the sandwich, but found it a slightly dry. It was also a bit cumbersome to fit all in one bite. The crispy potato wedges, a cross between home fries and French fries, was the highlight of the dish.
Due to late night pizza the night prior (whoops), I didn’t have much of an appetite when sitting down to brunch and ordered from the small plates section of the menu. The avocado toast, served on seven grain pullman and with mixed greens on the side, sounded refreshing and a healthy way to make up for my 2 a.m. Two Boots slice. The inclusion of tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and citrus was fresh and flavorful. I also felt like I got my money’s worth; the toast seemed to hold at least four avocados worth of fruit.
We were in and out of the eclectic restaurant in an hour, which was perfect for our busy schedules. When we finally received our bill from our absent server, the total amount was extremely reasonable. I couldn’t help but rationalize that I now had all the more money to spend in the neighboring Nolita boutiques.
The Bitches say: B. This quaint, open-air eatery has a friendly vibe and solid food options. Rintintin is a great alternative to some of the trendier brunch spots nearby if you don’t want to brave a two-hour line.
14 Spring St.
New York, NY
Rintintin serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 11 a.m.