Restaurants & Bars

Is Brooklyn Label's Chili Colorado the finest breakfast offering in all of New York City?

MarcInSunnysideGardens | Jan 22, 200705:41 PM     28

The question isn't really fair, because of course I haven't tried every breakfast joint in the five boroughs. That said, the birth of a daughter 21 months ago means, every saturday and sunday, we are up far earlier than we used to be. And we have an unusually restaurant-friendly child (there may be no other place to brag about this than here--and I dunno if anyone has ever described their offspring as "restaurant-friendly" before, anyway). So, we go out for breakfast A LOT more than we used to. And, well, I'm not blown away. The Queens options, there are a few decent ones, but no real knock-outs. What about other boroughs? Yes, I of course think NYC is an amazing restaurant town, but for breakfast? I don't think we're so hot. Chicago is better. The West Coast in general seems better. I'm rarely wowed here and it's actually hard to find any place but a diner that's open much before 9 or 10am...

But still. Holy cow. Brooklyn Label. on Frankin Street at Java (fittingly, the coffee is excellent) in Greenpoint. Where have you been the last 21 months?

Answer: Not in existence until about 6 weeks ago. Which means the rave comes with some caveats, because they are clearly a work in progress... I think most of the baked goods are still being brought in, as opposed to being made by them, for example, though they had some "coming soon" sign up about that. Additionally, a weekend special, biscuits and gravy, was unavailable yesterday. Bummer. I was gonna try it and then try the B and G at Williamsburg's Egg and declare a winner (note on Egg. I like it. I really do. The biscuits are sensational. But it gets awfully packed and... no, really, I like it. I'll be back. But nothing on their menu has impressed me like the Chili Colorado did at Brooklyn Label yesterday)... Maybe next time.

So, anyway, they offer a lot of sweet options (challah french toast, cast iron waffles) and I usually don't like a sugary breakfast (cheap high followed by a bad crash) and I wasn't in the mood for Steak and Eggs and... I was bummed about the lack of B and G. The waitress assessed me properly: "The Chili Colorado special is amazing."

Things you need to know about this dish:

1) I have a large appetite, and I concluded eating the Chili Colorado at 9:30 am, and did not have remote interest in further nourishment until 6pm Sunday. This dish could easily feed two people. Maybe more. I don't remember exactly what it cost but it wasn't that much and, well, it's a steal.

2) I'm not sure what cut of meat they were using. I understand Chili Colorado (it's a meat chili, traditionally, with green chili and tomato flavoring it, and it seems like it benefits from a drawn out marinade and braising process, from what I've read) is often enough beef brisket, but I think this was some cut of pork... I just e-mailed the restaurant to find out. It was great but I'm not 100% sure what the cut was.

3) It comes out in a large bowl. In the bottom of the bowl is a significant puddle of grits. They are soothing and dreamy and perfect. Atop the grits is the chili. It has a bit of bite but it's ultimately got that mellow braised quality that I adore but I've never really had at breakfast before. It works. The chili is bathing in some sort of oily sauce that seems to be fueled by reasonably mellow green chilis. Perfect condiment for the grits, this oily chili sauce. Little piles of slivers of roasted red pepper swimming in the chili oil add a nice little sweet, vegetal touch. Atop the chili? 2 perfectly poached eggs. Framing the eggs? 4 halves of toast that I believe was brioche, each smeared with some better-than-par butter.

Good heavens. The best breakfast I've had in this town.

Everything else we sampled was decent. The kid mowed through a big, fresh fruit salad and my wife applauded the shrimp and asparagus frittata she ordered (also a special, which means it's possible that neither this is or the chili colorado will ever be seen again?), though we agreed leaving the tails on the shrimp was a mistake.

And I assume we'll see a few mistakes from this place. But what a promising work in progress. The chef was obviously young, and I believe he owns the place as well. They're supposedly adding a dinner menu soon. The room was attractive, with big windows looking out onto Franklin, and a pleasant bar area as a seating option, as well as comfortably-spaced tables. Staff was super-eager and efficient. There weren't more than 15 patrons in there at any time, a big contrast to the nuttiness at Egg. A great experience on a Sunday morning, and as you LIC and Sunnyside types already know, Greenpoint is practically walking-distance. We drove from the Gardens and it was less than 4 miles from our house. 10 minute drive on a sleepy Sunday morning.

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