Brunch has always eluded me. I used to think of the word “brunch” as something fancy created by snobs. I imagine tables filled with oil tycoons, Wall Street success stories, and other blue bloods needlessly flaunting their wealth about between rounds of Bloody Mary’s. Brunch? Not quite breakfast, not quite lunch, but a meal in-between meant for a secret society of elitists.
Now that I’ve pretty much offended anyone reading this, I will say that I’ve always wanted to know what all the fuss about brunch was about. A handful of places local to the Food Dudes serve brunch, so you can understand where I’m getting this grand delusion from. You could also call it a drastic leap of faith when I actually agreed to join someone at a place of their choosing for brunch.
Photo Credit: Flickr
I was assured that this place was different from the rest, and that particular spot was Kiwiana in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Shying away from someplace new and from a concept unknown to me wouldn’t be The Way of the Food Dudes. And before you get any ideas, I already have the copyright for that title. Getting back to the review!
Kiwiana is in a word: unique. The main draw of this particular institution is cuisine inspired by New Zealand. New Zealand is that land down under next to Australia. And if you were thinking that this would be an appropriate place for a Lord of the Rings reference, well let’s just say that it would be in my favor and yours not to mention it.
The Master Chef and owner of Kiwiana is Mark Simmons. You might recognize the name from season four of Bravo’s “Top Chef.” After a couple of stints in other Park Slope establishments, Chef Simmons finally has a place of his own to pay homage to his roots. And in my opinion, a spot in Brooklyn with its many diverse neighborhoods and cultures, is the perfect choice.
I’ll start with a minor disappointment. And before you read any further, trust me when I say that this isn’t a bad thing since I avoided looking like a complete slob. So I’m walking up to the front door, and what do my eyes see first? The special of the day, which happens to be chicken and waffles. My mouth starts drooling uncontrollably. I’m talking the “made a stain on the pavement” type of mess. But after being seated, it was brought to my attention that everyone else wanted the special too. After a bit of consoling from missing out I made my choices. And yes, that’s meant to be in the plural form.
Scone anyone? As you can see, I couldn’t wait to get into this. A homemade scone with mixed berry jam (not pictured) was a good way to start. It’s just enough to nibble on before your main course makes its way to the table, and it’s crumbly but not overly crumbly. You aren’t picking up loose pieces all over the place. I like foods that tend to stay in one general area. The jam brings out a tartness that makes for a really nice compliment if you need that extra bit of zip. The scone really is scrumptious enough to eat as is. A Food Dudes first, using the word “scrumptious!”
These cell phone pictures clearly don’t do the dishes justice. This is Chai-spiced French toast with maple syrup, vanilla whipped cream and fresh berries. I went with potato hash on the side. For those who don’t know about the wonders of Chai, it’s a word used for tea in many parts of the world. Chai is generally made up of: rich black tea, heavy milk, spices, and sweetener. Now imagine all of that goodness going into French toast.
It tastes even better than it sounds, you catch the flavor of the spice right away but it isn’t overwhelming. And again the portion was just right, and with all of those ingredients it was surprisingly light and fluffy. The potato hash was also a good side. They come out in the shape of what can best be described as two Rice Krispies Treats of potatoes. But don’t knock it until you try it, it was flavorful and put me in the right place after I was able to eat my entire meal. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to any faithful follower of the Food Dudes.
Kiwiana has a menu that constantly changes so the freshest ingredients can be used in your meal. When this was written other menu options of New Zealand influence included a classic New Zealand pavlova with kiwi berries, and a Kiwi burger with ground lamb and fried egg.
Brunch is offered on Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. and is cash only. Dinner is also served from Tuesday to Sunday from 6 – 10:30 p.m. with a different menu to check out. But if you see a girl with a flower in her hair while you’re there, thank her as I did for changing my view on brunch. And as for you, chicken and waffles, you will soon have a date with your destiny.
847 Union St., Brooklyn, NY