Market Brunch at Equinox

IMG_0044I’m normally not a brunch person. There, I said it. I know brunch is a thing. And hipsters brunch boozily for hours. Sure, I do that maybe once a year, and it’s pretty fun. As a rule, however, I like to make brunch myself on the weekends, read my own paper, sit in my loungewear (unshowered), listening to Little Stevie’s Underground Garage on Sirius XM. Yeah, definitely a homebody on Sunday mornings.

However, every now and then, a brunch comes along to get me off my seat and into Sunday brunch. I was intrigued enough by brunch at Equinox to book a seating.

Hmm, Equinox.

It’s not Todd and Ellen Gray’s fault. In any way. My lasting memory of Equinox is a birthday dinner many years ago. I don’t remember the food, although I’m sure it was good. I just remember sitting there, looking over at G and saying, “this is fine, but it’s not Paris.” That’s the problem with having a birthday follow on so closely with your wedding date and in this case, your honeymoon. Come on, nothing compares to Paris ….

But I digress.

Brunch was also vegan.

How can you have brunch without eggs? or pork product? We were about to find out.

And what’s with my fascination with vegan cuisine? Just curious, I guess. And after a terrific, creative vegetarian meal in Berlin a few years back and a great vegan dinner at the Bark Ball (of all events!), I became curious about upscale vegetarian. There are good ethnic vegetarian places, but vegetarian new American or “continental”? Not so much. Until I came across Avant Garden in Manhattan … and now, the vegan brunch at Equinox.

My favorite moment: realizing that it was chef Todd Gray who was at the soft taco station, precisely and perfectly smearing black bean and avocado on my soft taco shell, putting an exact amount of tofu and salsa, topping it off with the ideal bits of cilantro and taps of chipotle hot sauce and then folding it and sliding it onto my plate. Pretty awesome.

What else did I like? The super fresh salad, the amazing beets, the tempura-style fried vegetables, the hearty black bean chili. I loved the polenta with wild mushrooms. But how could polenta – grits – taste so good with no cheese or butter … ?

I made my way through the buffet, but didn’t get to the French toast. Of the pastries, I liked the cheesecake (again, not cheese, though, right?). I thought the carrot cake was good, but maybe just a tad cake-y. Again, no eggs or butter, right?

In all, a lovely, civilized affair. I want to take my parents the next time they’re in town. sure, my dad will scoff at the “rabbit food” and grumble about not eating any meat. Then he’d taste the food – the freshness, the flavors – and he’d be more than fine.

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