I always look forward to a weekend in the city. Nowadays, many of my friends have moved to the Upper East Side, opting for more space and more serenity versus the living conditions downtown. That’s great for them, but I find the Upper East Side brunch spots are often a bit lacking. As we’re not inclined to trek across town in the early morning cold, we must find a suitable spot for brunch uptown.
On a day in late fall, I set out for brunch in the city with two of my best friends, Danielle and Lindsey, and Lindsey’s friend Meara joined as well. The location? The Penrose.
Self described as a gastropub, the Penrose is a casual bar with a deliberately vintage flair. Outside, ivy hangs over a bright blue façade with windows and the restaurants’ name is etched across the glass windows.
Inside, the space is vintage Americana: exposed brick walls, white tile flooring, and long, reclaimed wooden communal tables down the center. The tables are filled with 20-somethings and my girlfriends tell me it’s a popular bar come nightfall on the Upper East Side. There are dark, cozy leather-tufted booths along the walls and old portraits hang from the ceiling.
There are two backlit bars with leather bar stools and old school steel lamps hanging from the ceiling.
After having coffees at the bar, we were ushered to a space in the atrium. The thigh top wooden table was teeny—clearly a table for drinks at a bar, not a meal, but we made it work.
The brunch menu at the Penrose is concise but thorough. There’s basically something for everyone: Eggs Benedict, a burger, breakfast sandwiches, a full Irish breakfast, shrimp n’ grits—even granola. The menu boasts about the restaurant’s eggs, which come from happy hens from a happy family in Upstate New York. They’re actually “The happiest hens on earth.” But, who can be sure.
Speaking of eggs, Lindsey opted for the baked eggs in tomato sauce, served with goat cheese and toast. Served in a skillet, the dish was well presented and well prepared. It is certainly a warm, satisfying entrée for a winter day. A chef herself, Lindsey enjoyed the dish but is hard to impress—rating the dish as very good but not exceptional.
She ordered a small side of fruit, a small bowl filled with raspberries and blueberries. Speaking of sides, we ordered an enormous bowl of French fries for the table. The fries were good, but nothing spectacular.
Meara ordered the avocado toast, served with a poached egg in a small carafe. Also simple and straightforward.
Dani ordered the oyster breakfast, but was instead served the regular breakfast sandwich. She ended up being served both. The first sandwich, the bacon, egg, and cheese was served on a brioche role in a metallic wrapper. The second was the same, save for it also included fried oysters and pickles.
Last but not least, I selected the chicken and waffles. The dish was good—the waffle was really great, for a waffle. It was moist and flavorful, rather than dry. It was enormous—despite being only half of a round waffle. The chicken was also moist and flavorful, and I really enjoyed the drumsticks.
The Bitches say: Four Champagne flutes. We love the décor at the Penrose and it’s a great vibe for brunch. The food is pretty good, but nothing remarkable, however, and the service was hit-or-miss.
The Penrose serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.