Permanent Brunch | 95 First Ave. (at 6th St.), New York, NY 10003 | 212.533.3315 |

AS SOME OF YOU MAY have figured out from my many food-related Notes, the Lower East Side of Manhattan is presently enjoying a culinary renaissance. Cozy little joints such as Caracas, Black Iron Burger, Porchetta and Wechsler's have sprung up in the last 18 months or so less and have been receiving praise and accolades from critics and patrons alike. It has become the neighborhood I stroll second most frequently to my surrounding Yorkville (I've been below 14th Street this year much more often than I've been above 86th Street—And I live on 81st1).

And when a neighborhood and its restaurants start to do this well, the homegrown New York City cynic starts to come out of me. I start expecting one of these fancified, well-reviewed newbies to eventually disappoint. You know us New Yorkers; we love to be the cool, forward-thinking, savvy savant that tells everyone to go to a cool, hip place—in this case, the eateries of the East Village—and then snap that "we're over it" when everyone eventually does!

But, native New Yorker that I am, I always remain optimistic, if not just open-minded. And as I have trusted the recommendations of my daily UrbanDaddy email subscriptions, I ventured to safely rely on their high opinions of a restaurant where day is night, a food ideaology where a gimmicky premise evolves into an overdue necessity. A place called Permanent Brunch where—yes!—you can have eggs and bacon and toast and jam for dinner!

"Hallelujah!", you might be thinking, and you'd be right.

I was lucky enough to have my friend Karie—who likewise first found out about this place on UrbanDaddy (definitely worth subscribing to; it's for nightlife what Daily Candy is for sample sales)—join me on this fun, and ultimately very rewarding, experiment! We shuttled a cab down to 5th Street & 1st Avenue, eventually alighting, it seems, to the restaurant's storefront (like its brethren fooderies, visually innocuous and understated):


Inside, sleek, chic and intimate, with a very homey balance of modern retro...




...with a very efficient kitchen tucked away in the back.


Cute, yes, but that's not why you're here, and it wasn't why Karie and I were there. The inspired menu decides to not just serve your run-of-the-mill brunch fare, no siree. These folks take the whole food aspect of dining very seriously.

First of all, they have an Artisnal Bacon Bar! Yes, you read that correctly. You can choose what types of "rashers" of bacon you would like as your appetizer or as a side to your entrée like you would choose a bottle of wine (Karie and I forewent (?!) the wine and decided to "Friday" it up with a Bellini and something called a Royalton!).

There were five different bacon options; Karie chose the New Braunfel's Smokehouse Comal County Peppered Bacon from Texas (See? I told you, these folks don't play, yo...!) and I selected the customer favorite, the Hungarian Smoked Kolozvari Bacon from Wisconsin.



Her bacon was very good, suffice it to say. My bacon, however, might be the best bacon I've ever had. Seriously. (Karie insists that it is!) The first bite caught be wholly by surprise with its many elements of taste, smokiness, "porcinity" (yes, I made that word up!), texture.... As I explained to Karie, it really should be an entrée bacon; it's that fully realized and not in need of any other food to compliment or compliment it. It has the layered richness of flavors that explains why 2008 was the year of the pork belly. I even ordered extra to take home and they were just as impressive while I was in my pajamas.

I wish I could list the rest of the menu here, but as you can assume by the complexity of the bacon options, the other listed items are just as complex. Haute versions of Shrimp & Grits (with Sweet Corn and Chanterelles) and Peach & Melon Soup (with Chili-Spiked Ricotta) distract you heady possibilities under Appetizers, while the idea alone of entrées such as Ham & Cheese-Stuffed French Toast with Dijon-Maple au Jus and Pan-Roasted Coq au Vin Blanc-Braised Chicken Leg with Wild Rice & Bacon Waffles throws one into Pavlovian apoplexy.

Good thing we ordered a Dinner Biscuit with Housemade Fig Jam to tide us over while our heads oscillated from one side of the menu to the other as if we were watching tennis.


The biscuit was nice and warm and the fig jam was outstanding, boasting great fruit flavor without all that sugary sweetness or syrupy residue. Karie and I both agreed that we would have preferred our butter softer and more easily spreadable (as Karie so poetically put it: "Like a college girl with low self esteem...!" She said it, not me!), but the great flavor of the jam and the butteriness of the biscuit itself rendered that whole point, at least to me, moot.

Decision time. Karie goes for the simple yet elevated Scrambled Eggs with Side Salad and Duck Fat Fingerling Potatoes. I get a bit more adventurous and order the Baked Eggs with Short Rib Ragu, which also—thank goodness!—come with the Duck Fat Fingerling Potatoes.



Long short: All good! All very. I only late in life became amenable to "soft" eggs, because only my mature palate could appreciate the gift that is a warm, silky egg yolks of baked eggs pampering tender strands of beefy, flavorful short ribs being sopped up by thick slices of crisp-crusted, soft-centered, rustic grain bread. And it did. It was one of the dishes better served by the intended interactivity; chop it up, sop it up, and throw it down! I easily cleared my plate (and mini-pot).

Karie's scrambled eggs, though I didn't have a bite of it due to my singleminded dinner experience, looked deliciously light and fluffy, as she also indicated that the salad was bright and crisp and was a bright compliment. She seems to be the kind of orderer who goes for the simple stuff first, to see if it's done well, before being more adventurous. I'm the type of eater who likes to jump right into the deep end of the pool. Karie was, still, very impressed with her dish; so much so that she looks very much forward to coming back to PB (as they refer to themselves as on their website), as do I. (I already know what I'm going to order: the Chicken & Waffles. care to join?)

My dish was very rich, and my taste buds were in need of a palate cleanser. And although I was tempted by the dessert special of the day, a Chocolate Chip and Banana Muffin, I instead ordered the Coffee Milkshake with Fudge Madeleines.



I think our hostess, Kia (and that's so not how she spells her name!), made the milkshake, with real coffee grounds and the right balance of Ice cream and milk to keep it from being so thick that you either pop a forehead muscle trying to get it up the straw or have to go to a movie and return for it to be malleable enough to consume. And the madeleines, fudge madeleines? Exquisite! Firm and spongy on the outside, and an airlight cloud of fugdy headiness on the inside. My only regret was not taking more time to enjoy it all!

I guess as the sun goes down, the place gets a more intimate vibe as they dim the lights. But the place is comfy enough for pretty much anyone, as a family of six sat at the table next to us as we left.


I always know the sign of a good meal, or even a good night out. It's when I don't want to do anything else after so I can end my day on a nice, satisfying, and rewarding note. Karie and I cabbed it back uptown, enjoying the visual of what looked to be a full moon partially hidden by clouds. It was a heavenly sight. One I kept with me as I walked into the apartment, quickly changed into my PJs, savored the last three slices of that Hungarian bacon, and smiled myself to sleep.

Having to work the following morning on a holiday weekend was going to bring my down to earth, but at least I'll land a little more softly!

Bun Apple Tea!


Permanent Brunch | 95 First Ave. (at 6th St.), New York, NY 10003 | 212.533.3315 |