Pictured: "Happy Sweet Potato," Sweet potato cakes, poached eggs, mascarpone
Did you notice? Fall is in the air— literally! The air is crisp, the leaves are changing, and Fall-themed menus are popping up all over the city. And we, at Girl Meets Food NYC, are NOT complaining! It’s such a fun time for us to sample all the deliciousness of foods best enjoyed during Fall, and last weekend I got to do just that. Veteran caterer and aspiring restaurateur, Marilyn Moore of Divine Appetite catering invited us to sample the new Fall brunch menu at her West Village residence, The Grisly Pear pub. Here’s the rundown of my experience, and why I recommend you also stop by to satisfy your Fall brunch cravings this season!
Diverse Menu, Delicious Flavors
Prior to my brunch, I made sure to peruse the prix fixe brunch menu listed online. Immediately I was intrigued by the variety of diverse menu items. It listed brunch classics like French toast, shrimp and grits, to the more interesting dishes like Moroccan-style lamb and a Fall risotto made with mushrooms and apples. There was plenty to choose from, and it almost seemed overly ambitious for someone new to a restaurant kitchen.
But every dish incorporates flavors and influences from various cuisines and still maintains a sense of cohesiveness, which I find so reflective of a restaurant’s quality of food. (Because really, there’s no place in this world that makes a stellar pizza, taco, falafel, and burger.) Marilyn does an excellent job maintaining her self-proclaimed “farm fresh” theme throughout the menu, while still offering an interesting diversity that’s so important when trying to stand out from the New York brunch crowd.
Seeing as it was a Fall menu, my guest and I opted to try both a sweet and savory dish. We ordered the Fall Pancakes, which consisted of a stack of spiced buttermilk pancakes, topped with freshly whipped cream, homemade pumpkin better, pecans, and a side of homemade syrup. The other dish of choice was the Happy Sweet Potato, two sweet potato cakes topped with poached eggs and mascarpone in place of the chicken bacon for my vegetarian preference. The $20 prix fixe comes with an appetizer of hummus and warm pita — and it was GOOD. My guest (a huge hummus lover) and I (not so much of a hummus fan) were both thoroughly impressed. Seasoned very well and infused with a lot of fresh flavor, Marilyn’s hummus was truly a fantastic starter to the meal.
I’m happy to say that our meals that followed were equally as impressive. If you like pancakes and/or pumpkin-spiced anything, this is your place! Again, not a huge pancake fan, but I was absolutely in love with the Fall Pancakes! Incredibly light and perfectly spiced, they are accompanied by a dreamy topping of Marilyn’s homemade pumpkin butter and whipped cream.
And let’s not forget about that homemade syrup! If you appreciate the small touches in a meal, you’ll really love Marilyn’s knack for offering homemade additions wherever possible — and it shows! Nothing was overly sweet or heavy —and this is a big deal to say —but the Fall Pancakes might have been the best pancakes I’ve ever had. The sweet potato cakes also had a wonderfully fresh flavor and were really savory. I have to say that the poached eggs and mascarpone are fantastic with the rich sweet potato cakes, but I could have used a little side of greens with this dish to brighten it up. Both dishes were really delicious, and one thing is for sure: You definitely won’t leave this brunch hungry!
Now to the slightly down side. First it’s worth mentioning that after speaking with Marilyn, she seems to be well-aware of the challenges of hosting brunch at a pub, and mentioning the “cons” here is more as a heads-up to the diner than a criticism of her.
The Grisly Pear is a sports bar, and no brunch-loving diner I know would ever suspect such delicious food walking in. (This was clear by the number of people I saw lingering outside then walking away.) Unfortunately, it’s loud and a bit dingy in here. The ambiance calls for more chicken wings and less pumpkin butter, but I’m happy to say that the the presentation and quality of food is enough to shine through the drawbacks. Sure, you will have to deal with TV screens playing football, but for $20 and a crazy good brunch — I’d say it’s worth a try.
With that said, I think there are small areas where the experience could have been immensely improved. For one: The prix fixe comes with a mimosa, but the bar was out of champagne. The bartender/server did offer us a beer or “something else,” but I think another drink option is absolutely necessary here — or you can’t be out of champagne, period. Considering this brunch is in a pub, a beer shandy would have been excellent choice for another drink. Also, there’s no coffee menu, which — for many like myself — is a deal breaker for brunch. I don’t think anything fancy is necessary, but even for those who just drink coffee recreationally, it’s nice to sip on something while you wait for food. I was slightly disappointed at the lack of drink options, but it didn’t ruin my meal by any means.
With the cons taken into consideration, I’d definitely keep an eye out for what’s next by this clearly talented chef. What’s impressive to me is Marilyn’s attempt to take her success in the catering world and venture out into the scary scene of restaurant. Everything isn’t perfect yet, but her passion for good food and food made with good ingredients shines through her dishes, and I would definitely recommend a weekend brunch with her at The Grisly Pear!