Freemans

There is a type of magic to hidden nooks and crannies, when an unassuming entrance-way leads to a beautiful little corner that you would’ve otherwise missed. It reminds me of Narnia. Freemans capitalizes on that inner child in people, where we’d all like to discover secret treasure. You walk down a sketchy alleyway, and at the end you’ll find an adorable, charming restaurant complete with fairy lights and turquoise doors. Although, it really is an illusion of stumbling up hidden treasure because let’s be real here: we all came because we already saw on instagram, facebook, or the blogosphere exactly what Freemans looks like. Ah well, it’s a nice illusion to hold on to regardless.

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We came on the earlier side of brunch, and there was no wait at all. The inside goes for a rustic, farmhouse look, complete with beaten-up tables, rickety stairs, and lots of taxidermy. The stuffed bird next to our table definitely freaked me out.

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The hot artichoke dip is a must-order. If you get nothing else, get the artichoke dip. It comes out hot and gooey, perfect to slather on some toasted bread.

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We shared a savory and a sweet dish. The skillet eggs sit on a bed of spinach, topped with cheddar grits and bacon. A decent dish owed mainly to the grits and bacon.

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I was far less impressed with the lemon buttermilk pancakes. They were standard pancakes, not particularly fluffy or soft. For my favorite pancakes, head over to Friend of a Farmer in Gramercy. Those pancakes are somehow crispy on the edges and soft in the middle and have big, fat blueberries in the batter. The different textures between the outside and inside of the pancake make it sing. These Freemans pancakes fell flat though, so stick to the artichoke dip and the savory dishes here.

Freemans Restaurant
191 Chrystie Street #2F btw Delancey & Rivington, New York, NY 10002

Clinton Street Baking Company

February is a month of magical things including Chinese New Year festivities, City Bakery’s Hot Chocolate Festival and Clinton Street Baking Company’s Pancake Month. Featuring a lineup of pancake specials, these elaborate pancake concoctions are mouth-watering. Going to Clinton St for brunch is near impossible unless you are one of those people who find great pleasure in 5 hour waits, so I’ve only ever come here for dinner. Breakfast for dinner!

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Every table gets a plate of biscuits and butter. They are famous for having amazing biscuits, but I am sad to report that I am actually not a fan of these. I find that these biscuits are, dare-I-say, a touch undercooked for my liking. I want my biscuits to be slightly firmer, especially on the exterior. A bit more salt in the batter wouldn’t hurt either.

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Their pancakes are the real deal though. Chocolate chunk pancakes with warm maple butter. The pancakes are super thick and fluffy.

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Banana Walnut pancakes, also served with warm maple butter. That maple butter is amazing. It’s silky and smooth and not too sweet. It adds a sweet touch to the pancakes and does not overwhelm it, so you can still taste the actual pancake. However, not everyone at the table agreed. My friend who is a big fan of the Aunt Jemima variety wasn’t too happy with this rendition and felt that it was not sweet enough.

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The special for pancake month was the blueberry crumb streusel pancakes. The pancakes are layered with blueberries in between, and it comes with fresh blueberry sauce, vanilla bean whipped cream, and a mini blueberry muffin on top. Everything tasted so fresh. I love how the blueberries will pop out between the layers of pancakes. Add a dip in the warm maple butter, and that is a perfect bite.

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We also tried two types of bacon: double smoked and sugar cured. The double smoked bacon was really salty, so you have to alternate it with bites of other things. The sugar cured bacon was crazy good! The hint of sugar pairs really well with the bacon’s saltiness. I can have that whole order to myself. Actually, I think I pretty much did eat most of the bacon at our table. Hahaha

Clinton Street Baking Company
4 Clinton St (btw Ave B & Houston) New York, NY 10002