I moved to New York a month ago, friendless and freezing. And during this first Manhattan month, I’ve had an endless cycle of visitors come and crash on my couch, kindly helping me get settled and arranging friend dates.
I’ve become quite an expert at friend dating over the years. It’s how I meet people in new cities: friends connect me to friends, an evening of cocktails or wine ensues, and suddenly the Google calendar is full of social fun.
In fact, one of my dearest friends, Saro, was a blind friend date, set up by a mutual friend in Prague, back in Washington, nearly six years ago. I am forever grateful to James, our mutual friend, for arranging my meeting with Saro. It literally changed my life.
So when Saro came to visit me in New York, just a few weeks ago, he passed the friend-date baton along in the most appropriate way, by arranging a big brunch with his New York friends (and yours truly) at a cozy little Czech spot in Greenwich Village.
Doma na Rohu is like most spots in the Village: charming, warm, and full of spectacled people reading books or newspapers over coffee—all of this meaning it’s desperately hard for me not to fall completely in love with the space. The deal was sealed when a friendly restaurant cat started circling our legs.
Yes, a restaurant cat. As if Doma wasn’t charming enough, with its crooked, framed antique postcards on the walls and its mismatched old wooden chairs and tables. The tabby sat patiently in sun, monitoring the restaurant’s activities and purring away.
This familial, homey setting is intentional, as the owners clearly strive to recreate their experiences sitting at the dinner tables of their Czech, German, Austrian, and Croatian grandmothers and great-grandmothers. In fact, it’s exactly the kind of place you want to be in the depth of winter.
The brunch menu is the perfect mix of egg, sweet, or savory dishes, all with an Eastern European touch. The coffee came out quickly and piping hot. The joe is small-batch roasted by Brooklyn Coffee Roasters, and the milk comes from local New York state farms.
To start, we ordered a wooden paddle of carbs, a selection of four different slices of the homemade breads. Each slice was thick and warm and had a distinct taste, so we chopped them all up for sharing. There was the banana bread, banana chocolate chip, pumpkin, and zucchini. All delicious and unique.
My new friends were delicately instructed on the rules when brunching with a Bitch: don’t order the same dishes, and let me photograph before you dig in, pretty please. They complied, and what arrived was a nice selection of entrees from all sections of the menu.
Ruthie’s Latkes were definitely the winter comfort food winners at the table. Two big latkes—grandma’s potato pancakes—served with fried eggs, sausage, and potatoes. On the side, big dollops of sour cream and applesauce.
The eggs Lesco is like the Hungarian eggs Benedict. Two poached eggs over thick sourdough toast, with a Hungarian tomato-pepper stew underneath the eggs. Gorgeously plated and just as tasty as it looks.
If you’re not an adventurous egg-eater, Doma offers eggs any style you like, with fresh fruit, potatoes, and sausage on the side. One of our tablemates did exactly that, and the plate was big and satisfying.
I had the bagel with lox, as this might just be my New York brunch extravagance: the bagels. These beauties were straight from Murray’s Bagels, and the dish was near perfection: house-cured salmon, cream cheese, capers, and red onions on top of a hot sesame bagel. On the side, a big pile of fresh greens that nicely equaled out the dish.
The service was firm but friendly, just like your grandmother would be when making you brunch at home. Everything was on time and neatly served and cleared. The restaurant was running like clockwork, and the resident cat just blinked slowly in approval.
For dessert, we shared the Czech-style crepes, called Palacinky. This one was the Doma Palacinka, made with Nutella, fruit, granola, and whipped cream. The delicate crepe was full of warm Nutella, and the gorgeous dish was sprinkled with powdered sugar and topped with strawberries.
It was the perfect way to end a great friend date, and the team of us bundled up to brace ourselves for the tundra outside, hugging and exchanging numbers and promising another brunch very soon.
The Bitches say: Five Champagne flutes. A near perfect cozy neighborhood spot for some grandma-style Eastern European brunching.
Doma na Rohu serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.