What does a classy Bitch love more than wine and cheese? Wine and cheese at brunch.
This happiness was achieved on a recent weekend, when I gathered three new girlfriends for a lazy Sunday brunch at Murray’s Cheese Bar.
The restaurant, which is only a few doors down from its impressive namesake cheese shop, is a long and narrow diner. I fell in love with the sleek marble bar and the cherry red barstools and chairs. It’s the kind of place to which you want to bring a book, cozy up at a table with a glass of wine, and relax.
Front and center on the bar is a glass case showcasing the most drool-worthy hunks of cheese. We were seated at one of the few larger tables at the front of the restaurant, and I eyed the menu, admiring how so many interesting types of cheese are neatly tucked into each of the brunch dishes.
The menu had a selection of lovely brunch cocktails, but after a round of coffee, we all went for the mimosa flights. Three colorful glasses of champagne with different additions arrived: a classic mimosa, a Blood orange, and a specialty cocktail, which turned out to be refreshing apple that day.
The four of us ladies were too busy chatting, and the restaurant was filling up around us. It took us a little while to get our order in, but once things started arriving, we forgot about the slowness.
First, we had the avocado toast, which sounded like a healthy and tasty starter. A few triangles were neatly arranged and spread with lovely pimiento cheese. On top of that thick layer of goodness, pieces of bacon, then the avocado, all sprinkled with a bit of olive oil.
Surprisingly, the toast was gluten-free, though we never would have guessed. The dish was glorious, and one of the better toasts I’ve had. (Because toast, you know, it’s a thing.)
The spicy pozole was a hearty dish, served in a big soup bowl. Inside, pulled pork and amazing cotija cheese was cooked with an assortment of lovely vegetables, all topped with a poached egg and a diced tomato salsa.
There are a couple of eggs Benny options, one of which comes with a three-cheese fondue, poured tableside. Alas, the vegetarian at the table went for the eggs Florentine, which were served piled high with spinach and topped with a chipotle hollandaise.
I had the fried chicken on the menu. Because when in New York and presented with a fried chicken option, I just can’t resist.
Two big breasts of boneless meat were fried and placed on very tasty biscuits. Those biscuits were actually topped with goat butter, making the entire dish all the richer. On the side, a spicy honey, which I layered on. I wanted more cheese. And maybe some greens on the side to even the dish out.
We shared the French toast for dessert. It was almost a sandwich, sticky-bun-style, with two slices of thick-cut Pullman bread surrounding a thick spread of cream cheese. The bread is actually soaked in a brulee custard and pan fried, making it unbelievably rich.
Balancing on top of this construction was cinnamon toffee, crumbles of toasted pecans, and a sliced strawberry. I’m not sure how any one human can have this as an entree, because the four of us girls–even after a mimosa flight–had a hard time getting through it.
The only thing was I wanted more cheese! We seemed to have picked the only things on the menu that weren’t built around glorious cheese, though, granted, the best of the best cheese was expertly brought in to the dishes without overpowering them.
The rest of the lunch menu actually offers a gourmet mac ’n’ cheese and a grilled cheese sandwich that both look divine. I’ll be back for those, or for dinner.
The Bitches say: B+. Perhaps brunch isn’t meant to be overdone with cheese, meaning Murray’s got it right with its menu, expertly bringing the best cheese in the best ways into classic brunch dishes.
Murray’s Cheese Bar
264 Bleecker St.
New York, NY
Murray’s Cheese Bar serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.