This spring has been among the coldest on record for Manhattan, and we’ve spent our fair share of it binging—err, we mean catching up—on Netflix and the movies that we heard so much about during our Oscar Party.
In an effort to jumpstart our spring awakening, we decided to venture to the Upper West Side for a rustic, Mediterranean-inspired brunch at Michelin-recommended TESSA. Becca even took it a tad further and hit up a boxing class before brunch.
With a fresh copy of The New York Times in hand, we walked past a quaint sidewalk patio and through TESSA’s industrial-grade glass doors. Immediately, we felt as if we were transported into an indoor garden cafe that could be a worthy setting for any Renoir painting: The ceiling was covered in metal artwork, and there were huge pots of cherry blossoms on the tables.
As soon as we were seated, our gracious host brought over all of the liquid needed in order to shake off the rust from the night before and prepare ourselves for the feast that was to come. We paired our green juices, Bloody Marys, and bottomless cups of coffee with TESSA’s “Basket Full of Goodies.” Our favorite among the carbs stockpile was a homemade, pecan sticky bun that delighted our palates.
After flipping through the Times’ Sports (for him) and Style (for her) and replenishing our Bloody Marys, we decided to delve deeper into the French Riviera-themed menu. The manager stopped by our table to say hello (he had invited us in to try the brunch menu), and gave us his top menu picks.
We began with avocado smash on a hunk of fresh, sourdough bread. The dish was one of the better avocado toasts we’ve had in New York. Perfectly savory, and big enough to split between a brunch table for two, we loved the preserved meyer lemon and harissa and the perfectly cooked sunny side up egg.
After all of the liquid and carbs, we decided on our mains. The brunch menu covers nearly everything: sandwiches, egg dishes, an extensive make-your-own-Benedict menu. There are even dinner-type entrees like Branzino and linguini. We opted for the frittata as well as a bespoke order of Eggs Benny.
For the Benny, we decided to add a twist to the classic: pork belly rather than the traditional Canadian bacon. The topping choices were intriguing, as you could have your Benny topped with regular Hollandaise or go a little more adventurous with curry Hollandaise or even herbed tomato Béarnaise.
Both the frittata and Benny plates were so artfully arranged that we just had to pause for a minute to admire Chef Will Harris’ handiwork and take the requisite number of Snaps and Instas. The egg white frittata was a nice light brunch option. The eggs were cooked with chorizo, peppers, and onions. On the side, a saffron crostini.
Some restaurants struggle with the standard brunch dishes, however, the TESSA team doesn’t disappoint. The Hollandaise sauce was sweet and decadent while the pork belly added another layer of savory goodness to our poached eggs. The TESSA frittata was light and filled with farm-to-table fresh ingredients.
When it finally does warm up, we’ll certainly return to TESSA and try the sweeter side of the French Riviera. Judging by our fellow diners’ selections, both the “Most Amazing French Toast” and the “Rabbit Cavatelli” were calling us back.
The Bitches Say: A. Everything was well executed and on point. The green juices and Bloody Marys were delightful, but we had to wait a bit for refills.
349 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, New York 10024
TESSA serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.