10/27/16 Update from the Bitches: This restaurant is now closed.
To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t planned on brunching at The Cleveland on this particularly dreary Sunday afternoon. I was craving the matzo ball soup at Jack’s Wife Freda so I hoofed it down to Nolita only to find an hour long wait. Being both impatient and slightly sleepy, my boyfriend and I made a quick change of plans and headed across the street to dine at The Cleveland. We had both read positive reviews about the joint and I liked the font on the façade, which is always a good start. In the past, I’ve actually walked out of a restaurant that had a menu in Comic Sans.
We were seated immediately by an intentionally scruffy, attractive server. As we waited for our “morning,” well one p.m., coffees and soaked up the ambiance, I observed that this was the general look of the clientele as well. All of our fellow patrons were slightly disheveled and good-looking New Yorkers under the age of thirty, which is consistent with the majority of other Nolita eateries.
I immediately felt at home at The Cleveland. From the rustic décor, quirky artwork, and classic rock soundtrack, the restaurant was inviting and unpretentious. I am usually apprehensive about snobby service around SoHo, but the service at The Cleveland was a stand-out. We especially appreciated the quick water refills throughout the meal; nothing is worse than an empty water glass during brunch.
With trendy coffee shops on every street corner in this neighborhood, The Cleveland certainly kept up with the Jones’ and served a solid espresso. Andrew practically inhaled his iced coffee, while I stopped to take a few requisite photos of latte art. My soy latte was accompanied by a darling sugar cube and baby spoon. It was the little touches like this that made our dining experience so charming.
The cuisine at The Cleveland is new American with a Mediterranean twist. Andrew has the more exotic palate than me and promptly ordered the shakshuka, which consists of North African tomato and pepper skillet roasted eggs. The shakshuka was layered with complex flavor and certainly did not go easy on the chili pepper, which in Andrew’s world is a good thing. He doesn’t even flinch around ghost peppers. The dish was hearty and hit the spot on this rainy day.
I’m a sucker for kale and immediately gravitated towards the kale scramble. This egg dish contained Murray’s aged New York cheddar, sautéed mushrooms, and caramelized onions. The scramble was well seasoned with fresh ground pepper served tableside and had plenty of veggies.
Both entrees were served with two thick slices of crisp sourdough bread. The freshly made bread was the perfect vehicle for sopping up every last drop of Andrew’s shakshuka dish.
After throwing in the rustic-chic, homespun linen towel at the conclusion of our meal, Andrew definitively stated that this was the best brunch he’s experienced thus far in New York City. That’s a bold statement, but well deserved. We did not have any complaints about The Cleveland and it successfully warded off the “Sunday scaries,” at least for a few hours.
The Bitches say: A. With the laid-back ambiance, attentive staff, and delicious food, you’ll savor every last bite at The Cleveland.
25 Cleveland Place
New York, NY 10012
The Cleveland serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 11 a.m.