I’ve got a lot of love for the East Village, particularly Second Avenue. My very first New York apartment was a teeny, tiny fifth floor walk-up on 10th and 2nd so I have a special place in my heart for the locale. I was devastated to hear about the recent East Village explosion and my thoughts go out to everyone affected.
Local businesses have taken a huge hit by the tragedy and need every bit of help getting back on their feet as the neighborhood rebuilds. My friend Meghan and I had to double check to ensure that The Black Ant was even open the weekend after the explosion, but we were pleased to discover that our 1:30 p.m. reservation was still on.
Right at 1:30, the restaurant was pretty vacant. This was a telling sign of the impact of the tragedy. The Black Ant is very popular for dinner so brunch is a great idea if you’re having a hard time snagging a nighttime rezzie.
I had a few minutes to spare before Meghan arrived so I took in the eclectic Mexican-inspired decor. The interior featured an interesting juxtaposition between jet black panels and bright patterns with lush greenery and original artwork. Judging by the ambiance alone, it was clear that The Black Ant is a trendy Mexican joint; think more Empellon than Rio Grande.
Meghan and I had a lot of catching up to do so cocktails were most definitely in order. We both love tequila and spicy cocktails so a round of smoky jalapeño margaritas was a no brainer. The zesty drink contained house infused tequila, orange liqueur, lime, agave, and rimmed with smoky salt. The margarita hit the spot–not too sweet, flavorful, and most definitely smoky. I could have gone spicier, but I say that with most food and drink items.
Meghan and I both came from vigorous Equinox classes so we immediately put in an order of guacamole to share. This starter didn’t disappoint. The avocados were layered with chicharron, chile de arbol, queso fresco, and fresh radishes. I appreciated that this wasn’t plain Jane guacamole and the dip highlighted various flavors and textures.
After scarfing down copious amounts of tortilla chips, we figured it was about time to get started on entrees. The Black Ant is known for avant garde Mexican food, particularly the cricket tacos on the dinner menu, and the brunch offerings were similarly unique. Although our server raved about the fish tacos, once we read the description for the perrito de pulpo, we knew we had to try it.
This dish was basically a breakfast version of a lobster roll with a twist. The jaw-droppingly huge sandwich contained grilled octopus on a bacon roll served with morita ketchup, jicama slaw, and spicy fries. I love octopus and was glad that the chef did not fry the mollusc. The fishy flavor was a bit drowned out by the sandwich dressing, which was my one complaint.
We joked that the spicy fries were covered in crack because they were just that addicting. They were zippy, salty, and a little sweet when dipped in the infused ketchup.
Next we embarked on the huevos pochados con langosta, which is poached eggs and lobster served on jalapeno biscuits with chorizo gravy and papitas. This dish was beyond decadent but worth every calorie. The Black Ant didn’t skimp on the lobster and we preferred the chorizo gravy over any traditional hollandaise sauce.
The entree was so rich that we barely touched the biscuits and potatoes, to no fault of The Blank Ant’s though. This was by far one of the most memorable Bennys that I’ve sampled in a long time.
Finally, we rounded off our meal with something sweet. churro pops. These adorable mini-churros were sliced into bite-sized pieces and were ideal for sharing. The fried dough was slathered in sugar and served alongside warm chocolate and caramel sauce for dipping. Even though we were ready to roll out the door, we couldn’t stop munching on this stand out dessert dish. The churros shouldn’t be missed, whether you’re dining at The Black Ant for brunch, dinner, or happy hour.
Although this brunch was on the house, it’s worth noting that the prices are quite reasonable especially for an establishment with such a trendy vibe. Most brunch entrees are in the $13-15 range.
The Bitches say Five Champagne flutes. We loved the playful take on Mexican fare; creativity can often be lost on brunch menus. There are plenty of delicious bites on the menu, don’t be shy and order something unique.
The Black Ant serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 11 a.m.