Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Stone Park Cafe - Brunch of Champions

Stone Park Cafe - 324 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11215
F/M/R Train at 4th Ave - 9th Street or M/R Train to Union Street

This past weekend, Dan, my brother Peter, his girlfriend Fiana and I brunched in Park Slope. Our original intention was to try the 2-for-1 $23 brunch offering as part of Brooklyn's Restaurant Week. Unfortunately, Stone Park didn't participate in that, but it came so highly recommended that we had to try it.

Stone Park Cafe is located in the heart of Park Slope's "restaurant row" also known as 5th Avenue. There are so many quaint cafes and shops on this street that it's hard to choose between better and best.

I got a good vibe immediately upon walking into Stone Park, and its simple, clean look made me feel comfortable. The front-of-the-house dining room is buzzing, and it accommodates large and small parties alike. There's a back seating area, which seems to be more private but given that we were there for brunch, we didn't mind the energy of the front room. The bar is also welcoming, with plenty of stools to sit on and some bookshelves, displaying great cookbooks such as the Joy of Cooking.

Our expectations were high, set by my friend Ivona who recommended this place. They were completely met and we thoroughly enjoyed everything on our plates. We'll happily come back and I'll absolutely have to get the breakfast nachos next time. The food here is original and interesting.

Hangtown Fry - I chose this because it boasted an ingredient that I've never had in a brunch dish--oysters. They tasted wonderful and were fried to perfection, served alongside an omelette with bacon and Vermont Cheddar. The combination of fried oysters and eggs was a nice one--you got a salty crunch from the oysters and a silky buttery taste from the eggs. Well done hash, served on top of the eggs was another tasty--and hearty--addition. The whole thing was super filling, a dish designed to hold you over until dinner.

Sourdough French Toast - Peter ordered this mainly because he was taunted by the heaping plates of it, passing us by while we waited for a table. Served with berry compote and Vermont maple syrup, it was a simple but a great dish. The bread was slightly cinnamony yet not overly sweet. I liked the chunky aspect of the berry sauce, as it added another touch of freshness and rusticity.

Stone Park Burger - Dan, a lover of meat chose the classic burger with bacon sans cheese. I had a bite and liked it but not as much as I liked the burger at the Spotted Pig. The fries were delicious, crispy and plentiful. I didn't get a piece of the bacon but Dan said that it was crunchy and chewy, just the way he liked it.

Breakfast Nachos - Saving the best for last, the breakfast nachos were a true stand-out. Fiana ordered them and I praise her for a choice well made. The crispy, seasoned nachos were topped with a plethora of deliciousness including mushrooms, salsa, tomatoes, pepper jack cheese and eggs over easy. The most exciting part was when Fiana broke the egg and let it spill onto the nachos. It made for a silky sauce that not only looked beautiful, it tasted fabulous too. I have strong suspicion that the the nachos were homemade, as they produced a lovely crunch with each amazing bite.

Service and Cost:
Our server was nice and efficient but he was super busy. Although I never felt neglected, I sensed his stress and knew how overwhelmed he was. What I did like is that he made strong (and very sound) recommendations about our dishes. He didn't hesitate to tell us what he liked, and he really made us feel good about our choices.

Stone Park Cafe is on the expensive side for brunch. Everything has to be ordered a-la-carte instead of a brunch prix-fixe that I'm used to in Astoria. An entree and a drink (coffee or beer) cost us $20 per person including tax and tip. While this this isn't terribly expensive, it's not what I'm used to paying in our neck of the woods. However, I'd argue that you get what you pay for--excellent quality food.

3 loud Mmmms

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