Brunch at Prune
Some things are unforgettable, like a perfect cheese pairing. Especially for breakfast. A few Sundays ago, I went to brunch at Prune in New York with my brother. It was the morning after his 34th birthday, and we decided his first bite of the day should be ephemeral. We’d also read Blood, Bones, & Butter, by owner Gabrielle Hamilton, and so for us — and for most of the people shifting feet outside this tiny East Village restaurant that Sunday — the meal was to be a pilgrimage.
My hopes were low. Prune had the look of a once romantic nook turned food court, full of strollers and women in visors. I was sure we had come too late in the restaurant’s stardom to find what we were looking for: a cozy hole in the wall where a person could sit, looking lazily out at the day, while nibbling on a “room-temperature salad.” (For some reason, that phrase stood out from the book — Hamilton’s desire to serve unchilled greens, presumably fresh from a garden and not a walk-in?)
We waited an hour, brother and I, staring at the lox in Russ and Daughters across the street and contemplating the bird men in nearby Chinatown who we’d seen ferrying elaborate cages to a quiet park. There, the men had hung the cages on special hooks in the trees, allowing feathers to get ruffled and preening to take place in the open air, while the old fusters chatted to one another on park benches.
Brunch was perfect, when we sat down. Perfect in a crowded, wobbly, colorful way that only works in New York. Fresh ricotta with honey, figs, toasted pine nuts, and raspberries — it was jut the ephemeral bite we’d come looking for. I crave it still.