I have always said that The Smith is “the spot.” Whether it is brunch or late night drinks, this Manhattan favorite almost never fails to deliver. They serve generous portions at reasonable prices, and it is a solid place for modern-American fare. With three locations, including one conveniently situated in Lincoln Square, The Smith has been a favorite with almost all of my Fordham friends. I went for Sunday brunch this week at the East Village location and overall had a great dining experience.
Every brunch meal is served with a cocktail or fresh juice (make a note that NYC restaurants can’t serve liquor before noon), so if you want a mimosa with your eggs benedict, plan accordingly. This cocktail-included policy is a great alternative to “bottomless” brunch — where one tries to get one’s money’s worth of watered down drinks. With this system, one can simply pick one cocktail to enjoy with one’s meal and for less money. Most of The Smith’s brunch entrees are under $20.
Even though I feel like avocado toast peaked a while ago trend-wise, it sounded so good on the menu that I ordered it. The waiter delivered a beautiful plate featuring multi-grain bread topped with perfectly ripe avocado, crushed red pepper, freshly dressed greens and two poached eggs. The eggs were perfectly cooked, but the bread got soggy quickly, and I thought it was a little chewy. Ordering a side of home fries was a good call on my part, and they were definitely a spicy spotlight-stealer.
If you’re looking for a brunch on the sweeter side, go for the vanilla bean French toast. The caramelized bananas are lackluster and a bit mushy, but the French toast itself is to die for. Nine times out of 10 I’ll choose pancakes over French toast, but this is the exception. The bread they use is two inches thick, perfectly browned and caramelized on the outside and soft and fluffy in the middle. The toast is sweet to begin with, but a little maple syrup definitely doesn’t hurt.
An underrated menu item is the cheesy grits. I had never eaten grits before dining at The Smith, and found them to be perfectly creamy, cheesy and indulgent. The side portion is huge, so it’s great for sharing among your tablemates if you’re looking for a savory bite. To finish the meal, we couldn’t resist an order of homemade doughnuts. They were delivered to our table perfectly warm and glazed in a sugary coating, an ideal companion for a mid-afternoon latte.
If you go, I definitely recommend opting for eggs benedict, whether it’s the original or something special (they had lobster benedict this week), or the French toast. I wouldn’t order the avocado toast again, but I definitely plan to return to The Smith the next time I’m in a brunch-y mood.