Another weekend, another birthday brunch. As a “professional” bruncher, I love that daytime mimosas have begun to replace cocktails in the evening as our go-to celebration within my circle of girlfriends. On this particular Saturday afternoon, a group of 12 of us gals gathered at Paradou in the Meatpacking District to celebrate Sondra’s coming of age.
I had been to Paradou a few times previously, early on before my Bitch days. Paradou’s selling points include the killer location, open-air garden patio in the summer, and relatively reasonable bottomless deal for $30 for groups up to seven, $35 for 8-11 party goers, and $45 for groups of 12-20 including the price of an entree.
Paradou’s front room is reminiscent of a Provençal cafe with white-washed brick walls, high ceilings, and quirky artwork. It’s inviting but tiny like most places in lower Manhattan, until you enter the bright secret garden in the posterior of the restaurant. During the winter the roll-away rooftop stays closed, but plenty of light still enveloped the space.
After about a ten minute wait, we were seated in the garden, the designated area for party brunching, and were promptly served carafes of traditional mimosas, bellinis, and strawberry flavored mimosas. The mimosas seemed a little watered down, like many other boozy brunches, but after the course of a few hours, it didn’t really matter anymore.
Diners are given a wide variety of interesting entrees within the bottomless prix fixe such as a duck Reuben, the “really big burger” with sautéed taters, Parisian-inspired omelettes, and lobster sliders. I appreciated the multitude of choices since many bottomless brunches leave you with only a few dishes to complement the cheap champagne. We put in our orders, but that’s where brunch really started to go downhill.
Our items started trickling in, which is customary for a large party and especially for a restaurant full of even larger parties, but they completely forgot about Molly and Meghan’s orders of mac-n-cheese. They reassured us a few times that the dishes were on the way when we inquired about the status and finally admitted that there was a mix up in the kitchen.
By the time Molly and Meghan received their entrees 45 minutes later, the rest of our party was completely done eating. Rather than offering any sort of apology, our server rudely asked if he should just take their dishes away to the trash if they were so disgruntled, which was completely unacceptable. My friends subsequently asked for a manager, who never appeared at our table.
As these events unfolded, the rest of us dug into our mediocre main dishes, offering bites to our two hungry comrades. Brittany and I both ordered the Vegematarian Sammy, a breakfast sandwich filled with eggs, oven-roasted tomatoes and peppers, avocado, watercress, and topped with aioli. The sandwich was dry and quite bland; the one redeeming factor was the avocados. Avocados make anything good. I enjoyed the light greens and home fries, however standard brunch sides shouldn’t outshine the main course.
Natalie ordered the Wake & Bake, the token hangover special on the menu. The impressively sized dish consisted of Polenta, two eggs sunny side up, Andouille sausage, and Gruyère cheese. This dish was creamy and decadently greasy, and Natalie confirmed that it hit the spot after a long night. The Andouille sausage added a hint of spice, but she noted that the eggs were average at best.
We were intrigued by the side option of housemade tots with chipotle dipping sauce and promptly placed a few orders for the table. These tots made my head spin and not because of the copious amount of mimosas I had already consumed. They looked and felt like cornbread, but tasted just like your cafeteria’s tater tots. I was utterly confused about the presentation and am still scratching my head over whether I even liked this side dish.
Bottomless brunch at Paradou includes a dessert plate, which was a great way to complete our meal. This is included in the fine print of the menu, but we were pleasantly surprised by the sweet treats, especially after our negative interaction with our server. I could only muster a few bites at this point, but dessert wasn’t particularly memorable.
We started brunching at a reasonable hour–noon–but it really started to get rowdy around 2 p.m. The music dialed up and transitioned to house and bass-heavy rap and the entire dining room started dancing on their chairs. Eventually the wait staff made everyone return back to their seats for their safety, which was probably for the best. More diners and bar flies piled into the back garden and it seemed like the servers were a bit overwhelmed.
We finally ran into the manager on our way out, who proceeded to get in a verbal altercation with Molly. Pitchers of mimosas didn’t help the situation, but it culminated in an exchange of words and the manager eventually flipping the bird and telling us to F-off.
We took our business across the street and laughed about the situation over steins at the Standard Biergarten. Luckily Sondra had a blast despite the drama, and that’s all that matters.
The Bitches say: D-. It’s completely unacceptable for restaurant management to cuss out customers and on top of that, the food was mediocre at best. Save your money and go to any number of neighboring hotspots in Meatpacking.
8 Little West 12th St.
New York, NY
Paradou is open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 11 a.m.