I’ve been meaning to try Prune for both brunch and dinner for some time now because I kept coming across it in conversation or in other food reviews. New York is one of those places where you will literally have a never-ending list of places to try like this. As a friend said last night, you cross one off your list and always end up adding three more.
Gabrielle Hamilton started Prune in 1999 and has since won a James Beard award and published a bestseller that is now being displayed at the front of all bookstore racks. For some reason, I was expecting a classy old New York restaurant before I got there. Prune is quite the opposite actually. The place is decked out in pink and is very lively and almost cute.
Their cocktail menu featured one entire page of different Bloody Mary concoctions. Their twist on the classic brunch cocktail included all kinds of ingredients… clam juice, pickled egg, pickled brussels sprouts, wasabi, beef jerky, you name it! My friend was planning to get the clam juice, olive, and citrus vodka Bloody Mary but chickened out at the last minute and had a mimosa. Having never had a real Bloody Mary, I decided to go for the classic: vodka, celery and lemon. I promised myself that if it was good, I would come back and get the weirdest one on the menu. The classic Bloody Mary was very strong and flavorful. It was almost like a gazpacho with a little something something. I think I would enjoy the drink as an afternoon snack or something because my body was definitely not ready for it in the morning. The drinks also came along with a small shot of … beer. I wasn’t really sure what to do with the beer and didn’t know if it was supposed to “go with” my meal or anything. I noticed that every other table had the same, small, untouched shot of beer. I guess no one else knew what it was for either. I can’t believe I didn’t ask the waitress but was engrossed in my conversation with my friend and completely forgot.
Prune had a number of very interesting dishes to choose from but I settled for a classic Eggs Benedict, firstly because I figure I’d test the kitchen out* and secondly because I simply love an eggs benedict.
Gah! And let me tell you. This dish absolutely blew me away! I’ve had countless eggs benedict brunches and have become somewhat picky about them because I’ve experienced the spectrum. The reason Prune has perfected this dish is because of a number of things:
- English muffin is not some generic muffin bought from a grocery store (aka. Thomas brand, which I do love, but not when I’m paying for service). It is chewy and soft at the very center but toasted to perfection and crisp enough to not completely fall apart from the yolk.
- Eggs are perfectly poached; yolk is mostly runny and just barely starting to harden on the edges, whites have cooked through and is completely white with that filmy glaze over it.
- Freshly grated black pepper was very fragrant… it was the first smell that triggered my senses when the dish was brought to me.
- Hollandaise sauce is extremely flavorful without being too salty or too creamy (normally made with egg yolk, butter, and seasoned with lemon juice, salt, white pepper, and/or cayenne pepper). The sauce was not as thick as most sauces and did not congeal after a few minutes, which most hollandaise sauces tend to do.
- Canadian bacon had a nice smoky flavor that cut through the hollandaise and egg very nicely.
- Hashbrown (or potatoes rosti as they called it) were AMAZING, comparable to the one the Clinton St. Baking Co. has. I love that the shredded potatoes are nice long and thin strands because it makes the exterior much crisper. When the potato shreds are too thick, the center of each shred tends to soften and wilt after a few minutes. It was flavored very simply, probably with just some sea salt? The simplicity paired perfectly with the egg, bacon, sauce, and english muffin combo. Clinton St. Baking Co. garnishes their hashbrowns with a few sprigs of parsley (I think… or scallions? Can’t remember) which is extremely delicious. I imagine Prune could add a little something like that to make it even tastier (though also completely unnecessary). Oh wait hmm… I just realized there is a HUGE sprig of parsley in my first photo of the eggs benedict… I guess I ate it up with the eggs and didn’t even realize!
*Whenever I try out a new place, I like to test the kitchens out with the most basic dishes and flavors. For example, every time I go to a new ice cream place, I always try out their vanilla. If you can’t get a basic poached egg done right, how can I be sure of your other more complicated dishes? Then again, yes, yes, I know, some places are known specifically for their PISTACHIO ice cream or RAINBOW SPRINKLE CARAMEL BOMBSHELL ice cream. This experiment only works if you’re trying to see how good the kitchen is as a whole.