Shhh…This Might Be Brooklyn’s Best Secret Brunch Spot

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Normally, I’d feel worse about giving up an unknown brunch spot, because, obviously, that’s the kind of information that I want to keep for myself. After all, one of the reasons that brunch in Brooklyn is so maligned is that it usually involves a really long wait of what seems like hours (and is, in fact, sometimes hours), only to then be forced to eat squashed between squealing babies and crusty unshowered fellow diners, all in order to get what is sometimes just a lukewarm omelette, but is sometimes the kind of life-saving, hangover-reducing food that makes the whole crazy brunch scene worthwhile. But because I am pretty confident that this particular brunch spot (which only technically opened for brunch-business yesterday) is going to blow up soon anyway, I don’t feel that badly about revealing it to all of you. What I’m trying to say is, I’m not writing about it out of the goodness of my heart, but rather because I highly recommend getting yourself over there one Sunday morning while it’s still possible to do so without waiting on an interminable line.

Oh. So what is this place? Well, it’s The Elm, Paul Liebrandt’s new-ish restaurant at the King & Grove hotel in Williamsburg. The Elm has been open for dinner for several months now, and is already known for the innovative cuisine that has long been Liebrandt’s hallmark. How that type of dining experience would translate to brunch was something that I was curious about before dining there on Sunday morning. In an effort to recreate my normal brunch-eating condition, I went to the Elm with a full-fledged, bottle-and-a-half of red wine-induced hangover. You know, the kind of hangover where every time you yawn, you worry about throwing up? Yeah, that kind. It’s the worst.

And yet, by the end of my brunch at the Elm, I felt better. Like much, much better. Because despite the fact that the Elm’s brunch menu is more refined than typical brunch offerings, there is some amazing hangover-fighting food available. The burger—loaded with Comte cheese, confited tomatoes, and big slices of spicy pickles—is a really delicious addition to Brooklyn’s already excellent burger scene, and comes with slender, well-seasoned fries and a mustard-based dipping sauce. Other solid offerings include the Lobster Benedict, which replaces the always-too-tough English muffin with a tender crumpet, is one of the best Benedict dishes I’ve ever had. There’s an abundance of plump morsels of lobster, an exquisitely poached egg, and the Hollandaise sauce gets drizzled on top of the whole thing at the table. Many of the classics are covered—there’s a perfectly pale yellow omelette laden with spinach and mushrooms and Leonora goat cheese, a hearty breakfast sandwich on the same delicious brioche roll that the burger comes on, and house-made granola with sheep’s milk yogurt, but the one surprise is that there aren’t many sweet offerings on the menu. I tend to like savory more than sweet, but anyone who wants a pancake or French toast fix might need to go elsewhere. Or they could order the assorted pastries, which include an excellent almond croissant and a sticky cinnamon bun of which I could easily eat five or more.

But so, the drinks! Hungover as I was, I still managed to rally enough to down a Bloody Mary. It was smoky and spicy with the addition of chipotle, but was absent of any of the pickled vegetable garnishes that have become standard on most of Brooklyn’s Bloody Marys. No matter though, I could easily have had a few more. If you don’t want alcohol though (I guess people like that exist?) you can enjoy one of the freshly made juices (my favorite was carrot-yuzu, but green apple-kale is also excellent and refreshing). And the coffee is Intelligentsia and is refilled with an alacrity that is much appreciated.

I have little doubt that brunch here will soon be a madhouse. After all, the Elm has already been named one of the best new restaurant’s in America, and so I’m sure the brunch hordes will be descending soon. But try getting over there one Sunday before that happens (currently, the Elm is only open for brunch on Sundays), because you’ll be treated to one of the calmest brunches in Williamsburg, in a spot that feels like a sun-drenched, private garden, with the kind of food that’s worth waiting on line for, but that tastes infinitely better when you don’t have to wait at all.

The Elm; 160 N. 12th Street, Williamsburg

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen


  1. The food is great at The Elm, really. It’s so delicious in a 4 star kind of way. The only downside is that this is food you would have in any 4 star city. That’s my only complaint: I feel like I could go to a dozen 4 star places in a dozen cities and not really be able to tell them apart. For me, The Elm doesn’t offer something unique enough… but it is predictably delicious.


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