After dancing the night, and morning, away at PH-D we were ready for some calories. More specifically, we were ready for a boozy brunch.
We wanted to continue the birthday weekend at a brunch scene so stopped by to talk to Stanley, a concierge at the Waldorf Astoria. Stanley was thorough as he made multiple calls to find the perfect spot. He recommended the Australian-inspired Sunburnt Calf and off we were to the Upper West Side. We entered the unassuming-from-the-exterior café to find a bar jam packed with brunch-goers. The atmosphere was energetic and I literally high-fived my girlfriend excited about the $10 for unlimited drinks special.
We pushed our way through to find the host and he told us it would be more than three hours to be seated. Now, I’ve heard of some pretty crazy wait times, but never three hours. It seems while our concierge friend Stanley was very thorough and is no doubt excellent at his job, he forgot to check national holidays. Australian holidays to be exact. You see, it was Australia Day, which makes for a really inopportune time to head to an Australian café with no reservations for brunch.
Thoroughly disappointed – we really wanted some kangaroo meatballs – we asked the host if he could recommend a place for a boozy brunch and he recommended HK Café. After checking their wait time via phone, we were back in a taxi on our way to Hell’s Kitchen. [sidebar: As we were on our way I checked out their website. Holy late-90s site!]
Entering HK Café we knew we were in the right place. The scene was trendy and waitresses were walking around with hands full of mimosas and screwdrivers. The restaurant had some fantastic music playing but it is very loud. Meaning if you want a quiet, cozy brunch spot this is not the place for you. We were told it would be about 15 minutes for a table so we headed to the bar to start our unlimited brunch drinks. For $16.95 you can mix and match mimosas, bloodys, Bellini, screwdrivers or champagne.
The front of the restaurant has glass garage doors for their exterior walls. I made a comment about how I wished it were warm out so we could open the doors, but then my friend made a comment about how close we were to the Port Authority. The thought of all the emissions becoming friends with my mimosa was unsettling. I was for once thankful it was cold out.
While the scene was spot-on we were in for a rude surprise with the bartender. When my friend asked for a cherry in her Bellini the bartender looked at her like she had grown a third eye on her forehead. Despite the fact cherries were available he said he could not put a cherry in her Bellini. I don’t know what bartending school he went to but if a customer asks for something in a drink, you put it in the drink!
Luckily our wait was short and we moved from the bar to our table. Overall the food was so-so. I ordered the lobster eggs Benedict and my eggs were done perfectly but my friend’s eggs were over poached. The lobster and avocado it came with were delicious but there wasn’t near enough lobster. The taste was good but my English muffin was burnt at the bottom, which was a major bummer. The home fries were seasoned with red peppers and on the softer side. I like my brunch potatoes a little bit crispier and saltier. I was envious over my friend’s chicken club that came with fries.
Strangely, HK Café is cash only but only on the weekends for brunch. Maybe their credit card system hates working on Sundays? Not sure how a restaurant elects to turn down 21st-century forms of payments on a selective basis, but they get away with it. Luckily they have an ATM in their basement.
Despite the extra $2.25 ATM fee, a cherry-less Bellini and my burnt English muffin, we left happy. It was a boozy brunch we were after and it was a boozy brunch we got.