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I'm a young professional living in Astoria (formerly of Williamsburg, the UES and Murray Hill - I move a lot!). I'm always looking for something fun to do or the best place to grab a drink and dinner at an affordable price around the city. Have a suggestion? Email me at Laura AT 89thandbroke DOT com.

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Stellar AYCD Brunch at the Sunburnt Calf

The Sunburnt Cow is an AYCD New York City brunch institution and its sister restaurant, Bondi Road, is supposed to be great too. Earlier this year the Moo Life Group expanded and opened the Sunburnt Calf on the Upper West Side.  Apparently they all serve the same food with the same prices and specials, but the one plus for me is that the Sunburnt Calf is uptown, read: closer to my apartment. With seven college girlfriends visiting for the weekend, I knew an AYCD brunch was in order so I decided to give the newest addition a try…and it was phenomenal.

There are horror stories of the waitline for the Sunburnt Cow, so I was relieved to learn that the Sunburnt Calf accepted reservations for groups of 6 or more. Luckily they were able to take a group of 8 at a week’s notice, but the reservation system was pretty intense. After the phone conversation they emailed me a form which I had to fill out and send back with my contact information, what the brunch was for, and my credit card information so that they could charge me $15 per person if they were late by fifteen minutes or if I made any change/cancellation less than 24 hours before the day.  I also received a reminder call a few days before Saturday to re-confirm my reservation. Like I said, it was intense.

Anyway, we all made it on time (even a little early) and were greeted with a delicious lemony shot, apparently a common custom at these restaurants. We were seated in the back room which was like a greenhouse, except not humid, but it was nice to look up and see the sky through the glass walls and roof. It’d be really cool during a thunderstorm or snow fall.

First and foremost, I should comment on the drinks which are included in your brunch price for $18. We had a choice of unlimited Fosters, screwdrivers, bloody marys, mimosas or greyhounds (not sure what that is). You don’t have to stick with your first drink choice so you can go around and try as many as you want. However, they are so good at refilling an empty or partially empty glass (a real plus at an AYCD brunch) that you need to catch them early to tell them if you want a different drink before they refill you. We all had mimosas or bloody marys and both were delicious (I would know since I had both). But without a doubt the bloody marys received the most attention for being the perfect consistency (not too thick or thin) and awesomely spicy making it the ideal brunch drink.

While the brunch menu wasn’t extensive (you had about a half dozen options and three or four additional ones for an extra $5), it covered the basics: omelets, regular eggs, burger, eggs benedict and a pancake/french toast like dish that looked heavenly. Most of us ordered the eggs benedict, which came with regular bacon instead of Canadian bacon. I loved this swap since Canadian bacon isn’t my favorite, and there were two burger and one scrambled egg orders as well.

The food was delivered quickly and since we were all so hungry, we devoured our plates far too fast, an amateur mistake when you’re trying to milk an AYCD brunch. We quickly realized our mistake once most of our plates were cleared (we were there a total of 30 minutes at that point…), so we made our two friends with plates remaining take their time on their garnish lettuce and quarter of an eggs benedict platter that was left.

Perhaps needless to say, the food was delicious! The burgers were cool because they were stacked with all kinds of unusual ingredients, like a beet, egg and pineapple. They came with handcut french fries, which were universally agreed upon as very tasty, but the burger is so massive that it doesn’t really need any side. The girls ordering the burgers loved them and I have to admit that they did look quite tempting. I was in the eggs benedict order and it was exactly what I was expecting. Nicely poached eggs, crisp (but not burnt) English muffin and my personal preference, Hollandaise sauce on the side (photo shows it poured on). This too came with the popular french fries and a mini side salad. Unfortunately the scrambled eggs platter only came with toast, but luckily there were enough fries to go around so that we could share with everyone.

We did manage to get a few more drinks out of them before the check came and they also brought out another round of shots, which were well received. Everyone who waited on us was so kind and inviting, even as the group got a little tipsier as the afternoon wore on. I’m not sure if they only do it for large groups (they should do it for all), but they added gratuity into the bill which we thought was smart. By the end of an AYCD brunch, we barely got through splitting a total check 8 ways and gathering the correct amount of money from everyone (somehow we were $6 over, how does that happen in this scenario?), so we’re glad we didn’t have to calculate a tip too.

Overall it was an excellent experience and I can’t wait to go back. Everyone was happy with their drinks, food, and service, so it was an A+ all around. If you have friends in town visiting, or if you just want to go to a fun boozy brunch, then definitely hit up one of these three restaurants for a great time.

The Basics
Name: Sunburnt Calf
Location: 226 W. 79th Street (at Broadway)
Who to bring: Friends
Price: $$, great value!
Overall: 5 stars!

Sunburnt Calf on Urbanspoon

1 comment to Stellar AYCD Brunch at the Sunburnt Calf

  • The greyhound is grapefruit juice and vodka- quite a dangerous combination, as I discovered one summer afternoon at Bondi Road. It didn’t hurt that the bartenders were super friendly either, so we were pretty much stumbling out of there by the time we were done.

    I’ve been to the Sunburnt Cow before, but not for brunch, because of what I’d heard were the horrendous wait times. Sounds like I’ll have to try to baby calf instead!

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