Say what you will about the suits and the high rises and the Starbuckses proliferating Williamsburg and vampire-sucking out all its charm and affordability. So long as Saltie—the little Moby Dick-themed sandwich shop that could—is still open, the neighborhood hasn’t lost its ingenuity. Here, chef-owner Caroline Fidanza and her small crew have been selling briny and bright sandwiches that spill forth from studio apartment-sized slabs of lush, salty focaccia since 2009. It’s the sort of place every neighborhood wishes it had: reliable and wholly unboring, affordable enough that you can swing by any time you’re hungry or hungover or entertaining an out-of-towner. And now, to the delight of anyone who might be passing by between the hours of 8am and 11am, they are serving breakfast.
Brooklyn’s bankers and baristas alike should rejoice: As with the restaurant’s standard daytime roster of sandwiches, Saltie’s new breakfast menu is small but mighty, and democratically caters to almost every breakfast preference. (It’s also mostly vegetarian.) Want a fruity yogurt bowl both decadent and seasonal? Want a burrito whose leftovers will double as desk lunch? Want a meaty, eggy, saucy sandwich to slake the burliest of hangovers? You want some coffee with that?
Saltie has always managed to feel hospitable and revolutionary, soothing but unexpected. The cult favorite at lunchtime is the Scuttlebutt, a herculean effort of flavor-layering: eggs and cheese and aioli, spiked with the brine of capers and olives and a twangy parade of pickled vegetables. Breakfast, now, strikes similar chords: colorful and bright against comforting and soft. An egg bowl laces long grains of basmati rice through soft-scrambled eggs, cooked greens, and sweet-spicy pickled peppers and onions, blanketed with a cilantro-jalapeño salsa verde. That breakfast burrito is saucy as hell: those same scrambled eggs take up just as much space inside an ultra-soft tortilla as the salsa rojas, a thick, smoky red sauce that tastes like sweet fire. What you think is rice turns out to be shredded potato, a bit jarring in its lack of color or crisp edges, but mostly inoffensive. If you have some restraint, you can take half your burrito to go, and worry not about lunch.
The yogurt bowl feels like the sort of thing you imagine you’d serve to guests when they come visit your lightly refurbished farmhouse upstate: A loose rhubarb compote pools over the yogurt lazily, scattered with a goodly serving of seedy, fennel-laced granola that manages to be clumpy and chewy at the same time. The menu’s only other sweet option is a friendly little date shake, strong on the cinnamon and thin enough you can treat it as a beverage, not a drinkable meal.
At the moment, prices range between $6 and $12, easily less than what you’ll pay for a wan lunch salad in midtown. Coffee starts at $2 and is better than what they sell for more at too many faux-artsy cafés in the area, you know the type. Everything is available to go, a gentle reminder that your busy schedule is no excuse for a lame breakfast.
But if you have the time, you’ll be smart to sit, and if you’re lucky, you can nab one of two stools that looks out over Metropolitan Avenue and watch the suits stroll past as you tuck into the McBreakfast, Saltie’s nod to an Egg McMuffin. It’s a hulk of a thing: an over-medium fried egg draped over a house-made, griddle-crisped pork patty flecked with fresh herbs, saddled with a pile of pickled onions and a smear of special sauce. It’s all sandwiched between two planks of focaccia which, with its salty-crunch exterior and sponge-soft innards, might be the most perfect foil for a breakfast sandwich. It’s intense; Fidanza concedes that it’s a bit too much for her, and slyly calls it “bro food” with a knowing glance from behind the counter. But Saltie knows that bros deserve a scratch-made breakfast, too.
Currently, breakfast is only available on weekdays, but Fidanza recognizes that weekend breakfasts are an important next step; “people need consistent hours,” she says. She usually posts updates on Saltie’s Instagram page, so keep a look out there. Until bleary-eyed saturday McBreakfasts are an option, do your best to get to Williamsburg some morning before work. Call in sick; call a breakfast meeting; whatever. The cookies and baked goods appear around 9 am; instead of explaining to your boss why you’re late, just slide her a chocolate nudge cookie, and all will be well.