Sweet Eats for Brunch in Chelsea

By Meredith Hoffman on July 31, 2011 12:56pm 

CHELSEA — Signature egg dishes, mimosas and highly prized outdoor tables are staples of the Manhattan brunch scene, and DNAinfo tracked down the best Chelsea spots at all price ranges.

Locals in the know say those looking to spend an average of $20 for brunch should head to Cookshop, those wanting to dish out $10 should head to the all-night diner New Venus Restaurant and those looking to fill their bellies for $5 or less should head to the trusted Murray's Bagels.

COOKSHOP — UNDER $20

Kinnari Shah stood outside Cookshop at 156 10th Ave. wearing a white dress, flawless lip gloss and flower headband, which she said was the right outfit for the scene.

"It's like art meets Ralph Lauren, everyone's well-dressed," said Shah, 26, preparing to enter the upscale eatery, opened in 2005 by chef Marc Meyer, who also runs Five Points in NoHo.

Shah and her boyfriend, Amit Trehan, 32, praised the popular egg dishes and Bloody Marys, calling the entrees "moderately priced" at $12-$15.

"I definitely say make reservations," said Shah, a sales director with Ome Caterers, who added that she's dined at the restaurant about 15 times.

"If you don't, expect to wait an hour," added Trehan, an attorney with Mayer Brown in Midtown.

Shah said 12:30 p.m. was the restaurant's weekend "peak time," and said 2:30 p.m. — the time they'd arrived — was the latest she'd come for brunch.

While the couple discussed their favorite dishes — Trehan likes the huevos rancheros ($15) and Shah's a fan of the fried eggs on an English muffin ($11) — Shah's parents arrived to join them.

After two hours at Cookshop, the satiated party strolled over to Chelsea Market.

"Now we're all in a food coma," joked Shah, after her meal of two eggs sunny-side up, baked in a skillet, with bacon and walnut raisin bread ($12). "It was excellent."

Trehan also said he enjoyed his eggs scramble ($14).

Shah's father, Kirti, 60, ranked his first time at Cookshop "an eight or nine out of 10," with his only complaint being the air conditioning was a little too cold.

"I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to come with their family," he said after his meal of a frittata ($15) with a side of spicy French fries ($6). "The fries had the skin still on, so a nice taste." He also sipped a Bloody Mary. 

"It cost $187 for six main courses, one side, four cocktails and two coffees," said Kinnari Shah. "That’s not bad."

NEW VENUS RESTAURANT — UNDER $10

At the New Venus Restaurant, Laurent V. Kurz, in his hip high-top shoes, embarked on his breakfast ritual.

"I started coming here when I was 15," chuckled Kurz, 31, alone in the open-air diner, at 252 Eighth Ave., with food filling his table. “I’m a creature of habit like that."

Kurz, a window director at Bloomingdale’s, said he first discovered the diner when he dated a man who worked at a café next door and continued frequenting the spot when he was a student at nearby FIT.

He said almost everything in the diner has remained the same over the years, with a comforting vibe reminiscent of his hometown in New Jersey.

"There are diners all over Jersey, so this feels like home,” he said. “I don’t usually go to eat alone but I’ll come here and eat by myself and not care."

As for the food, he found his meal just as satisfying as the countless other times he'd ordered it.

"I call it the morning special,'" he said of his usual ham, pepper, and onion omelet. "Toast, eggs, potatoes, it’s everything you need—well, everything I need. I like carbs."

He complimented the diner's friendly service, adding that customers can come at any time to the 24-hour eatery without facing a wait, and said his $8 bill was reasonable for such a satisfying meal.

"I'll be packing my apartment today so I really needed something," said Kurz, preparing to move from his Harlem home to a new place in Brooklyn. "I’ll keep coming here as long as I live in New York City."

MURRAY'S BAGELS—UNDER $5

Peter Seigleman walked up to his beloved dining spot, Murray's Bagels, at 242 Eighth Ave., in his sneakers and gym clothes.

"I just came from New York Sports Club," said Seigleman, 50, who lives across the street from the deli. "I come here almost every day — they have the best bagels."

Seigleman, a real estate appraiser with his own business also on the block, said Murray's healthy meals have him hooked.

"The have 'health bagels' — whole wheat and bran bagels," said Seigleman, who began frequenting Murray's five years ago at its other location, 500 Sixth Ave., before the Eighth Avenue spot opened.

"Most people don't think it, but bagels can be light ... but some people come here and get the middle scooped out, I wouldn't go that far," he laughed.

Seigleman said weekend brunch was the busiest time for Murray's, with a line up to the counter that could last up to 20 minutes.

"It's not the friendliest crew," he admitted of the service. "The price, though, is very competitive. Brooklyn Bagel down the street, they toast the bagels, but here they have better ones."

After 20 minutes, had ordered and downed his $4.95 meal.

"I had a health bagel with scallion cream cheese," he said. "It's a textural thing—a bagel's substantial and scallion makes it spicy, so it gives a healthy bagel a zip!"

Chuckling at how quickly he devoured the sandwich, he explained, "I was hungry post-workout and post-Blockheads [bar]."

The partying the night before didn't hurt his appetite either, he said.

"There's a link between drinking tequila and wanting a great bagel in the morning."

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