Brunch has become a beloved meal for different cultures, communities, and palettes. Especially for the residents of our Two River area. Instead of your typical boozy brunch we decided to try something different.
We chose a new place, a spot we’ve loved for a while, and somewhere unexpected. You can’t define brunch by one or two things, but by many special little things. The main element brunches have in common is that they are not quite breakfast, not quite lunch, and Bloody Mary’s are acceptable before noon. With that, let’s begin and end with something seriously delicious.
Tucked into a corner spot at The Grove West, d’jeet? was our first brunch date. Usually a long wait – because of its ideal location – we were seated right away into one of their cozy booths. Our brunch started off just right with a French Press Coffee ($3) and a fresh basket of warm bread. We were delighted to see the soup of the day was Roasted Cauliflower ($7), as we’ve always been big champions of cauliflowers’ versatility. It was light, flavorful, and a healthy choice.
We followed the soup with The Grandpa ($12.50) a sandwich we would have ordered just for the name. Two thick slices of seeded Italian bread layered with soppressata, roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic. This sandwich was full of flavor, spicy and sweet. The perfect antidote to a rainy Saturday. It’s safe to say that Grandpa knew what he was doing when he came up with this little number. For dessert, we indulged in d’jeet’s? Caramel Pot De Crème. This is a little pot of goodness, topped with whipped cream, berries, and homemade Milano cookies. We recommend stopping off at d’jeet? next weekend before you do some spring shopping. We also think d’jeet? should sell those Milano cookies. We’ll take 10.
You had us at crepes. This cafe is a hidden gem that we almost didn’t want to share with our readers. The chef is sharp, the food is fresh, the staff is welcoming, and the specials are innovative. And we mean innovative; they once had an omelet with alligator on the list. And one of us even tried it.
Everything at this cafe is made to order from their granola to the Irish soda bread. It has all the charms of a cafe and the interior of a New Jersey diner. It will make you feel at home. For our Sunday brunch, we decided to share the California Omelette, the Potato Pancakes, and a BLT. (It’s brunch – we can eat what we want too!) The omelet was stuffed with spinach, avocado, sundried tomatoes, and Monterey jack cheese. Served on a classic white plate, our entrée was steaming, fluffy, and everything an omelet should be. Our Potato Pancakes were perfectly griddled with crisp edges – just like we like it – served with sides of applesauce and sour cream. Everything a Jewish grandma would approve of. Our BLT was prepared on toasted whole wheat with thick cut bacon, sliced tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, and sliced avocado. Possibly boring to some, but a favorite to the Sickles sisters.
Our excitement for this article doubled in size when we realized that Dim Sum is a wonderful brunch option. Although we’ve traveled miles for classic Dim Sum, this weekend we opted to stay local and visit Crown Palace on Route 35 in Middletown. The outside is unsuspecting, you could drive by without a glance. The inside however is bustling with delicious scents, plates clinking and lots of activity. Within minutes of sitting down, the friendly staff begins to wheel their carts to offer you bite-size portions of food presented in small steamer baskets or on small plates. It’s similar to a carnival with vendors, except we’re buying dumplings and rice instead of churros and cotton candy.
It was hard to say no to any dish, but on this occasion we tasted the following: Taro Puffs, Lotus Leaf Stuffed with Sticky Rice, Roasted Pork Pie, Bok Choy, Minced Fish Balls, Fried Sesame Balls with Lotus Paste, Dumplings, Egg Custards and a few other specialties. The Fish Balls were seasoned with fresh herbs and served in a salty, earthy broth. The Roast Pork Pie had a flaky, savory crust – a nice contrast to the decadent well-sauced pork on the inside. The Fried Sesame Balls were plump and soft to the touch, full of sweet lotus paste. The Sticky Rice was wrapped lovingly in dark green lotus leaf. In the middle of the sticky rice we found small slices of roasted pork and herbs. The star of the show was the pan-fried dumplings. Cooked tableside, these savory balls of dough were bursting with pork and a savory sauce. Tender and sweet, we would come back just for this small plate. This is an experience that true food lovers should not miss. Dim Sum brunch is some serious eating, wear spandex and arrive ready to eat!
The Brunch options in our area are endless. We truly recommend these three treasures that we’ve just shared with you. If there’s a favorite place you’d like to tell us about send us an email to Tastes@tworivertimes.com. Remember life is too short not to brunch!
Tori and Sasha
The Grove at Shrewsbury West
637 Route 35
56 English Plaza
1283 Route 35
Tori and Sasha Sickles, members of the Sickles Market family, write about food, culinary trends and casual eateries in their monthly column “Two River Tastes.” You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow their food journeys on Instagram @torikaylan and @sasha_ad.
This article was first published in the March 30-April 6, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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