Barbounia – 250 Park Avenue South, Manhattan, New York
For my friend, Brad’s birthday, he gathered a bunch of us together for a Saturday brunch at Barbounia. As soon as I got this invite I was excited. Barbounia is a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try and it exceeded all my expectations.
The interior of Barbounia takes a page out of the Mediterranean with high ceilings, arches, tan and orange colors and an overall very European feel. The seating arrangement is equally as impressive with tables, booths and hightops woven in an intricate design across the floor. The booths, lining a wall adorned with an enormous picture and mirror, have plush pillows inviting you to hunker down and stay for the afternoon.
We arrived at 11:30 a.m., a little early for your typical New York City brunch, and Barbounia was practically empty. Our party of 14 was seated at a long high table close to the bar and right by two floor-to-ceiling windows letting a nice fall breeze in. Despite it being empty, the restaurant quickly filled up and before long, there was a line at the bar as people awaited tables.
Since we were a large group, we were required to order off the four course brunch menu, with some of the courses served family style. Additionally, for around $14 dollars you get all-you-can-drink mimosas, bloody marys, etc. The family style dishes we received and main entree I ordered were:
- Homemade Spreads and Flatbreads: hummus, tzatziki, roasted eggplant, taramousalata, spicy feta
- Chopped Salad: chopped cucumber, tomato, onion, parsley, mint, sumac and lemon tahini dressing
- Terracotta Shrimp: sizzling in lemon juice, parsley, garlic and olive oil
- Greek Fondue: kefalograviera cheese and Metaxa ‘five’ brandy
- Shashuka Merguez: baked eggs with tomato sauce, paprika, garlic and homemade lamb sausage
- Malabi: with raspberry Coulis, berries, toasted coconut and pistachio
- Silan: honey date, almonds, pistachios, rice crispy brittle, shredded halva and milk ice cream
- Pogata: assorted homemade gelato and sorbetto
The homemade spreads and flatbreads were the perfect start to brunch. A long and narrow toasted small baguette arrived on a wooden cutting board accompanied by five different types of hummus and spreads. These spreads ranged from your traditional hummus to one with fish to one with a kick to it. They were all equally delicious and were perfect on the toasted bread.
The next dishes kept us happy as well. Shrimp swimming in olive oil in a iron skillet and cheese fondue with raisin bread in another iron skillet arrived at the table. These plates didn’t last long. I loved both of them, with the shrimp having a nice grilled taste to them and the fondue being nice and mild which allowed you to really taste the raisin bread.
My entree, shashuka merguez, kept the trend going with delicious baked eggs served in a skillet and drowning in tomato sauce. The dish came with a long piece of homemade lamb sausage that had a little bit of spiciness to it, adding a welcoming kick to this dish.
Onto dessert! The highlight of dessert was definitely the silan. This was unlike anything I’d ever had and everyone at the table couldn’t say enough about this dish. The shredded halva had us curiously scratching our heads as we tried to figure out exactly what the hair-like topping was. It was almost like cotton candy with a sweet and sugary taste and we greedily licked the plate clean. This, in combination with the rice crispy brittle and ice cream, had us all in heaven.
Once the food was finished brunch wasn’t over yet. We picked up our glasses and headed to the bar where we were welcome to continue our all-you-can-drink brunch until 4 p.m. The bar was very crowded but we were able to secure a corner and our group readily took advantage of the deal. This is by far one of the best deals in this area for all-you-can-drink brunch. The bartenders were quick to fill up glasses and the entire restaurant had a great buzz about it. Needless to say, after four and a half hours of bottomless drinks, we were feeling very good.
Barbounia has quickly made my list of favorite brunch places in New York City. It wasn’t cheap, so don’t go here looking for a deal. However, the food and atmosphere were perfect and everything in combination added up to a perfect weekend brunch. I highly recommend Barbounia and will definitely be heading back very soon.