Harlem is not an area I frequent too often (it's just a tad out of the way from Williamsburg), but I'm glad I made the trip this past weekend for brunch at Lido. This fairly new Italian spot on Frederick Douglass Boulevard just got their liquor license and started serving brunch last week. Liquor license? Brunch? All words I enjoy. So I grabbed my mom and we made a little trip uptown; nothing says mother-daughter bonding like bottomless mimosas.
The space almost looks like it was designed specifically for brunch. Granted I've never seen it at night time, but the cream colored walls, crown moldings, exposed brick and tasteful chandeliers all seem to absorb sunlight. To get the full experience, we picked a nice hightop table right by the window. Gotta get that Vitamin D somewhere, since I doubt it's in the food. We started off with some coffee and mimosas, which apparently are unlimited with brunch. I'm no alcoholic, but those are like magic words to most New Yorkers. Take note. The mimosas were good, but unfortunately the coffee wasn't hot. You don't want to screw with my mom's coffee, so I told the waitress and she apologized and brought out a fresh pot. Mom was happy.
Like I said many times before, I always get eggs for brunch, but my recurring problem is that I also crave things like French toast, pancakes, and basically all refined starches. So here's the great thing about brunch: you can get something like that to share as an appetizer. Boom! Something called "baked vanilla panna cotta with Italian toast, fresh berries and cream" was calling out to me. Mom didn't seem too sure, having come from the gym and all. "It's brunch," I told her, "just try a little." As soon as the plate arrived, all trepidation was gone. I didn't expect THIS either. The description is not very clear because here is what it actually was: "Italian" toast (like French toast, but made with Italian baguette bread), topped with a vanilla-whipped cream, fresh berries and a dusting of powdered sugar. I still didn't see the panna cotta, but I can tell you that I didn't care. The "toast" part was sweet and crispy on the outside while the spongey insides soaked up all the glorious French toast batter. The fluffy vanilla-whipped cream was my mom's favorite part – she's a sucker for the stuff. One word: delicious. Back to the gym on Monday…
What came first? The veal or the egg? At Lido, they come together to make a tasty brunch dish. As many of you may know, I'm a big fan of meatballs, so when I saw "Farm-fresh poached eggs with veal meatballs, broccoli rabe, mozzarella and san marzano tomatoes", I was all over it. Mom got the baked eggs with spinach, fontina and pancetta. Also a solid choice and one of my favorites – bravo Mom.
The baked eggs definitely won the battle of cheesy-pancetta goodness, but I think I liked mine better overall because there were more flavors and textures. Only thing I noticed was that the eggs were slightly overcooked – still had a runny yolk for the most part though, so it didn't ruin the dish, it was just something I noticed because I scrutinize my eggs. I also scrutinize meatballs and I thought these were perfect. Eggs and meatballs…what a great combo. The spicy/sweet tomatoes and bitter broccoli rabe made it a simple yet complex dish.
Both egg dishes were tasty in very different ways, but the one downside of both of them was the lack of seasoning. We put quite a few shakes of salt and pepper on there and it was considerably better, and I suppose I prefer underseasoned to overseasoned, but still a few extra shakes of salt wouldn't hurt anybody. Well…unless you have hypertension or high blood pressure, then it might.
I would definitely go back to Lido for brunch and even my Manhattan-phobic mother said she would too. There were just a few small issues that I think could be easily fixed, and I will give them the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to being new and still working out some kinks. Maybe leave some salt and pepper on the table (we had to ask for it) and always keep a fresh pot of hot coffee and I think there would be many smiles leaving this place. I also want to come back for dinner because the pastas sound yum…gnocchi with guanciale, truffle butter and pecorino cheese…