An Apple a Day

Northern Spy Food Co. East Village 13 November 10
eat: Housemade Granola and Yogurt, Kale Salad, Corned Beef Hash, Biscuits
sip: Strongtree Coffee

My apple fetish began with an October road trip upstate. Surrounded by stunning fall foliage, I munched apple donuts, sipped hot cider, and chomped on freshly-picked apples. Back in the city, I baked comforting crumbles weekly. Even my Halloween costume - a leafy homage to autumn - was inspired by apples. When New York Magazine published Beyond Delicious, a visual apple-ography of Greenmarket offerings, it was exciting as the September Issue of Vogue. As I scanned the myriad of heirloom apple varieties, one name caught my eye, Northern Spy, both for the mouth-watering description and also because it had a familiar ring to it. Where did I know it from? Then I remembered that East Village restaurant that kept catching my eye: Northern Spy Food Co.

Named after the aforementioned New York apple, Northern Spy Food Co. is a welcoming, neighborhood restaurant that focuses on local, seasonal fare. Last weekend, I dropped by for brunch with my amigas. It is an adorable joint that brims with homey cuteness - vintage wallpaper, Robin Egg blue benches, even an apple-scented bathroom air freshener - without being too precious. Their sustainability credo extends beyond the food; most of the interior design stems from salvaged materials, including the wooden dining tables made from bowling alley lanes. We are seated in a cozy nook (pictured above) who's diminutive size is well-suited for sharing and gossip.

Our brunch begins with warm, house-made biscuits and pear jam. Normally, I'm such a butter-junkie that I tend to spread it on any breakfast pastry, but these golden biscuits taste as if a pat of butter went into each bite. The accompanying pear jam is just-plucked-from-the-tree fresh. Dare I be so bold in saying these are the best biscuits I've had in NYC so far....

Housemade Granola and Yogurt The whole-milk, organic yogurt is European-style, aka runny, which is a welcome change from the popular, dense Greek version . Sweetened with honey, the toasted granola brims with pecans, oats, and cinnamon-y goodness. If the granola was served atop ice cream, it would be dessert, but yogurt lets it sneak into the "breakfast" category.

Corned Beef Hash The ubiquitous brunch dish is a standout here. No dry, canned cubed beef of lore, but hefty chunks of brined Heritage Beef Brisket. The meat is so juicy that a pool of beefy gravy bastes the confit potatoes and perfectly poached, Feather Ridge Farm eggs.

Kale Salad We round out our meal with a seasonal salad: a mountain of frazzled kale, ribbons of clothbound cheddar, chunks of delicata squash, and crunchy almonds. Kudos to the chef for this preparation. By shredding the kale, this hardy roughage is less overbearing and mixes well with the other ingredients Per our waitress' suggestion, we order two baked eggs atop the salad. Their runny yolks make an egg-y dressing creating a Caesar salad-brunch style. Looks like I'm not the only fan - the recipe was just posted in NY Magazine.

In addition to the food, Northern Spy Food Co. has other benefits that make for an enjoyable brunch . The Strongtree Coffee is tasty and mirrors the local/organic vibe of the foodstuffs. There were wooden benches outside to help make the brunch wait bearable, and once inside, we ate at a leisurely pace without ever feeling rushed. If I lived in the neighborhood, I could see myself frequenting Northern Spy Food Co. often. It is high-quality, low-cost grub served in a friendly environment. Like it's mascot, it is the kind of place you should have once a day.