In case you haven't noticed, I like brunch. It's probably one of my favorite meals to eat at a restaurant. It's so decadent which makes it the perfect way to start a relaxing Saturday or Sunday or overcome the night before. Whether I'm looking for brunch to help me get over the revelry of the night before, energize me for a busy day of relaxing (and occasionally studying), an afternoon of shopping, to enjoy a little hair of the dog that bit you, or simply to catch up with old friends, I'm a brunch girl. This past weekend, I was in New York visiting friends and relaxing, so obviously brunch was necessary. For a relaxing Saturday mid-day meal, we decided to try The Mercer Kitchen in SoHo, one of Jean-George's restaurants. We entered the restaurant and headed downstairs to the hostess stand; the upstairs section is more of a bar. We had a reservation and were seated within just a few minutes. The interior is dark with open paneling on the ceiling and exposed brick walls and arches. Mirrors and glass throughout the restaurant make it seem larger, and also more intimate at the same time while upside-down umbrellas hanging from the ceiling add some type of decor. The mirrors reflect the tables and the low-lighting keeps the room feeling warm, despite the industrial build. The open kitchen is also a nice touch, just a personal preference. The brunch menu varied from Asian-inspired starters to classic American staples like the (MERCER) burger, all featuring fresh and seasonal ingredients. The whole menu sounded fresh, light, and delicious, making the decision very hard. Starters included butternut squash soup, salmon with crispy sushi rice, crispy squid, a beet salad, figs with mozzarella, basil, and prosciutto, and a raw kale salad, among other choices. The brunch entrees included savory lunch options like a burger, sea bass, a lamb sandwich, and even a NY Strip. It also contained more breakfasty choices like an omelet with goat cheese, french toast, and eggs benedict. There was also a small raw bar menu and a few pizza choices.
I was in the mood for the ideal brunch balance: a little breakfast, a little sweet, a bit savory, and something lunch-enough to hold me until dinner. So, I chose the smoked salmon pizza. This was no usual pizza though, it was essentially a deconstructed lox and bagel, kicked up a notch. The crust was a thin and the wide, almost an inch, edges were seasoned like an everything bagel with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic, onion and salt. The center of the pizza was covered with a dill mascarpone spread. The dill flavored the soft cheese, which was sweeter but a milder and more intricate flavor than cream cheese. Then, the pizza was covered with fresh, flavorful, not overly-salty smoked salmon. The smoked salmon was spread across the whole pizza and then topped with tomatoes. Lastly, there were a few vinegar-treated red onions. They tasted like they'd been soaked in red wine vinegar and excellently broke up the sweetness of the cheese, saltiness of the fish, and savoriness of the slightly-chewy crust with their tart acidity. The pizza was awesome! It was like eating a super bagel, and made for a super brunch. It was so unique in concept and the way the flavors all came together was delicious, despite the simple concept of the dish. My friends ordered goat cheese omelets served with rosemary potatoes, which they said were perfectly cooked, packed full of fresh goat cheese, and that the potatoes were very well seasoned. Overall, it was the perfect choice for catching up with old friends and starting a great day of traipsing around New York. I highly recommend trying Mercer Kitchen for brunch, or any meal, but definitely make a reservation!