Old School Nolita Brunch

It was a beautiful Sunday morning and I was off to meet my old roommates at the newly opened restaurant, Jack’s Wife Freda, in our former neighborhood.  The clever name of the restaurant speaks to the principle Dumbo Domestic preaches on a daily basis;  as the saying goes, behind every great man is a great woman!   This bright and cozy cafe is owned by a married couple who are former staff members of the Keith McNally restaurant empire.  The couple’s Israeli and South African heritage are reflected in the small menu and the cafe’s quirky name (his grandparents!).

Arriving around 12:30, I was pleasantly surprised to find the cute server clearing away some remnants from the sunny corner booth as my friend waited nearby.  Score!  Stumptown coffees in hand, we browsed the whimsical, well illustrated menu cum place-mats and settled on the Green Shakshouka, Kale Greek salad and a Matza ball soup with a side of cornbread!

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One of the brunch/ex-roommate trio,  the illustrious Chef Monsta and I met at Tel Aviv University, so naturally, we were excited to try out the Israeli inspired cuisine.  Sadly, we were a bit disappointed by a  lack of memorable  flavors.   Our favorite dish was the Kale salad which was a bright and tangy, somewhat original use of kale.  However,  the Matzah Ball soup which seemed to have the aroma of chicken, needed a ton of salt!   Likewise, the green shakshouka was perfectly cooked but could have used some additional spice and seasoning.   The cozy ambiance and great, friendly service made up for the bland dishes though, and after checking out our fellow patrons which included a young Israeli couple and a few scruffy downtown types, we were off to stalk our old apartment building!!

Back in front of our old digs, a real Chinatown tenement on Broome Street, I was feeling audacious and nostalgic and decided to buzz up to our old unit, #10!  A man answered  – ” its the girls who used to live here” I cried, and luckily he let us up!  We laughed as we climbed the stairs to the second floor, the building was exactly the same as we remembered! The new tenant in unit #10 was a true gentleman, and an L.A. transplant and incidentally had been getting Chef Monsta’s mail!!  We told him all about the raging parties we used to have on the roof and the chain smoking, elderly Chinese woman who guarded the entrance.  Before we could overstay our “welcome”, we grabbed his business card, thanked him for his hospitality and walked through the familiar grimy hallways back into the sunlight.  What a perfect Sunday morning –  great company, decent food, and perhaps, a new friend or lover!

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