Valentine’s Day doesn’t do much for me. I appreciate the flowers gifted on spontaneous weekdays much more than on a day where half the male population is carrying roses around the streets of the city. I can’t stand inflated fixed price menus. Pink heart balloons are tacky in restaurants. I feel incredibly lucky that most of my regular days feel like a special occasion, and I have difficulty embracing how commercialized Valentine’s Day has become.
I do like using Valentine’s Day as an excuse to see girlfriends, which is why I set off for a brunch this weekend with my two best gals. Paul appreciated the sleep in and day to himself, and I appreciated a day carved out for giggles and bubbles.
We set off to Brooklyn for a change of scenery, with the promise of “epic pancakes” at Five Leaves. Facing a no-reservations policy and a two hour wait, we walked a block over to a great beer hall to open the prosecco flood gates, playing Jenga and basking in the warmth of the fireplace while we counted down.
Even at 2 p.m. when we finally sat for brunch, Five Leaves was bumping. The energy in there is contagious, though the hovering diners standing by our table in the front wasn’t ideal. There isn’t a lot of waiting space and it was way too cold in New York to stand outside this weekend. Wood paneled ceilings, brass fans, and petite bouquets added nice touches to the cozy corner restaurant.
It was easy to decide what we wanted. Waiting until 2 p.m. to eat tends to rid me of any indecision and the delicious looking plates being whisked around us drove our order. But first, prosecco!
We selected the epic ricotta pancakes to share (obviously), which were served with a generous dollop of honeycomb butter and a sandwich-style tower of strawberries, blueberries, and sliced bananas. Topped with pure maple syrup, this dish was outstanding. I don’t know what they put in that honeycomb butter, but it was a perfect addition to the pancakes. You can’t come to Five Leaves and not order this.
We shared the Morroccan scramble next, served with merguez sausage, scrambled eggs, spiced chickpeas, crushed avocado, and grilled sourdough. I wouldn’t have ever paired chickpeas with eggs on my own, but the combination was delicious! The spice in the merguez and the chickpeas gave the scramble something really special.
Our last plate was the mushroom toast with grilled seven grain bread topped with a decadent maitake mushroom cream, sauteed kale, and a poached egg. I’m a huge lover of mushroom and was eyeing this plate down hard at the table next to me. This was towering with buttery mushrooms, making it incredibly rich in flavor, and each bite felt better than the last.
Because the mushroom toast wasn’t enough, we also ordered a side of truffle fries, which I happily dipped in the remaining mushroom sauce until the bowl was, embarrassingly, empty.
We could have stayed there all day nursing our incoming hangovers and remaining mushroom sauce, but brunching hopefuls were still waiting for tables by the time we finished at 4 p.m., so we reluctantly called it a (Galentines) day.
The Bitches say: Five Champagne flutes. Everything was outstanding. The neighborhood and vibe was refreshing, everything we ate was memorable, and I haven’t stopped thinking about my brunch since.
Five Leaves serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 8 a.m.