10/27/16 Update from the Bitches: This restaurant is now closed.
I’m not exactly what you’d call a morning person. I snooze my alarm a minimum of five times each day and seeing me at Equinox before 10 a.m. is anything short of a miracle. Thus, I’ve never had the problem of needing to find a brunch locale at an early hour.
One thing that will get me up on the earlier side is a day of seersucker and champagne at the horse races. On this particular morning, my friends Andrea, Andrew and I rose to watch California Chrome vie for the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes.
We had to meet our party bus at 12 p.m. sharp on St. Marks to head to the track so we needed to find a nearby boozy brunch open at 10 a.m. for a proper pregame. This was much harder than one would think. Most brunch spots don’t open until at least 11 a.m., and those with bottomless deals even later.
After a lot of research and dead ends, I discovered that Ten Degrees Bistro on Avenue A in the East Village serves brunch beginning at 9:30 a.m. Andrea and I were already big fans of its sister bar Ten Degrees’ infamous 2-for-1 happy hour and were pleased to discover that this deal also extended all day from brunch until 8 p.m.
Ten Degrees Bistro has a surprisingly charming ambiance. We came to brunch expecting a dark, cavernous interior similar to Ten Degrees and were happy campers when seated in a high-top table basking in the sunshine of the open-air window front.
The bistro-feel also extends to the French-inspired menu chock full of benedicts, croques, and croissants. We quickly ordered rounds of the 2-for-1 bubbles while perusing the extensive menu. Our server was attentive and friendly, despite the fact that she was covering the entire restaurant by herself at this early brunch hour.
I was craving something filling enough to fuel a long day at the races, but also on the healthier side so I could still sit comfortably in my structured Lilly Pulitzer shift dress. Avocado toast fit the bill. Unfortunately, this dish missed the mark. It seems pretty difficult to mess up a simple dish, but the thick-cut bread was overpowering and the toppings were under-seasoned. My entrée could have used some fresh-squeezed lemon and red pepper flakes.
Andrea also expressed a desire for some morning greens so she selected the eggs Florentine. This dish was classically prepared and tasty. The spinach was piled high atop the runny eggs and English muffin so she was a happy camper. She gave her Benny a thumbs up and I attested to her review after stealing a feel nibbles to supplement my lackluster avo toast.
I can always count on Andrew to order a quirky menu item and he didn’t disappoint. He went with the eggs Soffi, which consisted of eggs over medium with melted cheese, diced bacon and onions, and curry inside of a tortilla. This dish was an odd blend of Spanish and French cuisine and lacked a focus; it tried to incorporate too many elements at once.
After a few more glasses of prosecco, we were off to the races. California Chrome didn’t end up with the gold, not unlike our brunch at Ten Degrees Bistro. With a charming vibe in a great neighborhood and an all-day drink special, this brunch had the promise of winning, but the entrees didn’t deliver.
The Bitches say: C. Not bad if you’re looking for an early morning brunch, but the breakfast fare needs some improvement. Come for the all-day happy hour on Saturdays and people watching in Tompkins Square Park.
Ten Degrees Bistro
131 Avenue A
New York, NY 10009
Ten Degrees Bistro serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.