Brunching in Packs

| 17 Feb 2015 | 04:32

    Some of the best weekend mid-day meals for groups Sunday brunch in New York City is like a religion. If you take your weekend services seriously, you'll want to hit up these three downtown locales - these eats will have you picking off of each other's plates in no time. Sugar Factory (46 Gansevoort Street): It doesn't get much sweeter than this. Round up the girls and get ready to unleash your inner ten-year-old for a meal so indulgent you'll worry that you're gonna get caught. The Banana Split Waffle is exactly what it sounds like, as are the S'mores and Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate Crepes. The list goes on, much of the same variety, mountains of sugary, chocolatey, fruity goodness. If you opt for eggs or chicken fingers, there's an impressive variety of sundaes, chocolate fondues, and milkshakes like the Cookie Jar and Make A Wish (based on birthday cake) awaiting your arrival at dessert. Numerous candy and dessert inspired cocktails include Orange Chocolate Truffle and Red Velvet Martinis, and 60oz "Goblets" feature floating gummy worms and lollipops. I definitely don't condone the consumption of 60oz Cosmopolitans, but, honestly, if you're here, you've already tossed moderation and inhibition to the wayside, so you might as well go nuts. Please, don't tell your mother about this one. You'll give her a heart attack - or worse, she'll want to tag along next time. Todd's Mill (162 Orchard Street): Get ready to take a pretend day-trip to the country. The rustic-chic restaurant features artfully distressed woodwork, cream-colored exposed-brick walls, an open kitchen, a big, fancy patio, and linen napkins that add an extra touch of warmth. A casual neighborhood joint serving deceptively complex food, their menu changes seasonally. The focus: local foods prepared simply. Crowd-pleasing dishes include the Breakfast Sandwich served on a buttermilk biscuit and stuffed with fried eggs and spicy cheddar sausage, a very manageable and neat - but filling - Chorizo & Egg Burrito, and Crispy Sweetbreads (Swedish waffle) with Tabasco maple butter that are almost too pretty to eat. The Brioche French Toast is a strawberry-covered, crème frais-topped dream. Co-owner Michael Dempsey made me a special "mocktail," a spicy, alcohol-free watermelon lemonade, and I was in heaven. Everyone claims to do great cocktails, but it looks like these guys have got it down pat. East 12th Osteria (137 First Avenue): This new upscale Italian eatery is the first of its kind to land in the immediate neighborhood, and is also the first solo venture of executive chef Roberto Deiaco, formerly of Armani Ristorante on 5th Avenue. He's brought all of his elite clientele with him, so keep your eyes peeled for Justin Long, and get ready to feel fabulous. "My husband is out to prove a point, that you can have fine dining in the East Village," says manager and co-owner (and wife) Giselle Deiaco. I'd recommend the Insalata de Polla, a fresh, neat take on chicken salad, combining sliced grapes and walnuts with curried shredded chicken, the Strapazzato alle Ciliegie, puffy pancake pieces tossed with caramelized cherries and served with glazed Macedonia fruit salad, the fresh Gazpacho with yellow tomatoes and Burrata, or the Spaghetti Chitarra Carbonara, made with bresaola, bacon, eggs, and Parmigiano. Their signature drink, the Sgroppino, is a neater take on the popsicle-in-martini, combining Prosecco with watermelon, green apple, or orange sorbet. All of their breads, pasta, and sorbetti are prepared daily, from scratch, on the premises. The space feels like a trendy hotel bar, the glass and steel façade windows are perfect for people watching, and tiny details, like straws that look like sticks of bamboo, are irresistible. It's easily worth the few extra bucks.