This is a sophisticated restaurant that has managed to keep snootiness at bay.
The subterranean entrance opens up into three and a half rooms. There is dining behind the host stand, the bar room to the left offers seating on two sides of the square bar and then there are two more private areas, one is more like a small lounge, the other, where we sat, is part of another smaller bar area.
The beautiful mixed wood tables and remarkably comfortable chairs (the wall side has leather banquettes) were designed by Dorothy Vote (?) whom I can't find anything online about, but was told she was well known in the business.
The staff are all well dressed and service, for the most part, was exceptional. The last week or so of dining out has proven that great service can and does exist in New York City (Eleven Madison Park, Park Bistro, Annisa and now Country).
Here's what we ate and drank.
Stuffed French Toast with blueberries and hazelnut butter.
Side of Bacon
The Pomegranate Punch was a bit of a disappointment. It was more like a pomegranate fizz. This needed pomegranate syrup to give it any real flavor...and for the price, it was refreshing, but a rip off.
Both of our teas were great and came with interesting, square (and thus stackable for better storage) mugs that we liked.
The stuffed french toast was delicious but despite the waiters "no it does not" it was topped with nuts. This was very, very good and worth trying. It breaks from tradition by being served in a circular shape and both stuffed and topped with very ripe blueberries. Excellent, though Danna said that it loses its excitement halfway through. The bacon, served on cast iron skillets was very good, but unfortunately left lots of grease on the skillet...not necessarily a nice touch.
Earl Grey Tea
Soft Boiled egg with asparagus and mushroom
Side of Bacon
The perfectly cooked soft boiled eggs (2) came served in a bowl with an avocado puree, small, thin slices of asparagus, a bunch of mushroom slices and parmesan. This was delicious. I ordered a croissant to sop up the left over liquid. This is a less stuffing, cleaner tasting dish (and slightly more enjoyable) than say Deborah's Shirred Eggs dish. Both of which are capable of curing any post-drinking ails.
This simple brunch was as enjoyable or possibly more so, of a dining experience that our dinner at Annisa was the other night. The food was nearly as exciting and was executed very well, service was terrific for the most part and the room was fantastic.
The hiccups in service this afternoon included a) not being offered the specials b) not offered bread and c) not getting the menu exactly right re: the nuts on the french toast.
One thing that is unfortunate is that I can see the restaurant being closed in the near future...not because of food, or lack of customers (the place really started to fill up as we were leaving) but because of a structural problem.
There is a glass walkway above the seats in the bar area supported by glass beams. 4 of the 10 or so glass beams were shattered, as a result of the initial construction (I assume, as there were huge bolts drilled into the glass). I think Mr. Rockwell was a bit off his rocker when designing that part of an otherwise beautiful design.
I'll definitely be back for brunch, most likely for lunch and definitely for dinner when the main dining room is open in March.
Photos can be found on my blog.