Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
495 Sylvan Ave,
Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632
Bubbles and Brunch -- an October weekend brunch in a good New Jersey Mediterranean restaurant.
The new Lefkes patio space is great for outdoor dining; we sat outside, in the garden area which was set up nicely with plants, flowers and flowering trees, colorful shade umbrellas and well designed to keep social distancing while eating. Wait staff wore masks and was very pleasant and very attentive. There were numerous heater units standing ready for the coming cooler weather. In addition, there was a tent set up in part of the parking lot to take any overflow or shelter diners from inclement weather.
The brunch menu seems to be giving a bit more weight to international dishes than the classic Greek plates that were offered during our previous dinning forays at Lefkes. I have to admit that the average Greek dishes in Greece are not really designed for a “brunch experience” except, perhaps, for a gyro in pita or a souvlaki. There you have mostly meze as an informal accompaniment to your drinks i.e. a little plate with olives and slices of hard cheese and/or salami or a couple of fresh tomato slices accompanied by pickled cornichons or some feta sprinkled with olive oil and fresh oregano. If you’re lucky, you might even get a fried meatball or two in a savory tomato sauce.
Since we were having brunch we started with a Rossini cocktail (strawberry pulp and Prosecco or other bubbly wine) for me and a Bloody Mary for my lovely wife, served with three skewered green olives and a slice of lemon. We wondered for a second if the olives came from the potted olive tree near our table. The menu mostly offers Bellinis and Mimosas, but since the fresh, white peach season is almost over, I thought that instead of a Bellini, a Rossini would be much more appropriate. It was an excellent decision. The Bloody Mary was also very good, just spicy enough to make it interesting, but not as spicy as we had in other places which would kill your taste buds for the rest of the meal.
We decided to try four dishes from the brunch menu: the lobster roll, the mini gyro, the avocado toast and the Tsoureki French toast.
The mini gyro was made with shredded chicken not lamb meat as the traditional Greek gyro is, and it was wrapped with a mini pita not inside a pita pocket, with classic tzatziki sauce, tomato, onion and shredded greens. But it was definitely a good plate to start with.
The avocado toast had toasted country bread, with guacamole and wilted rocket and radicchio salad on the side and was topped with two poached eggs and, interestingly, shredded leeks and shallots fried in a thin flour batter; all surrounded by French fries.
The poached eggs were perfectly made; the white was firm while the yolks were runny… “melato” as they would be called in the Greek language i.e. having the consistency of thick honey!
The Tsoureki Toast had two pieces of square form-baked-bread, egg-dipped and soaked with a coulis and brandy with Greek honey; it had sliced fruit on the side. An interesting variation on French toast, tasty, but did not look or taste like true Greek tsoureki bread which is normally a double braid, sweet, egg-washed and flavored with mastic and anise. No matter… it was OK.
The winner in this brunch was the lobster roll; it had large chunks of poached lobster meat with slices of tomato and cornichons in spicy mayonnaise, served on a soft, slightly sweet brioche roll with a massive amount of well seasoned French fries.
When finished with our selections, the waiter brought a plate with vanilla ice cream and three small pieces of baklava “courtesy of the house”. A nice touch, and sweet ending to our brunch.
We ended with a latte, for my wife, and an espresso for me. My espresso was well drawn with lots of crema. The latte coffee was a bit thin.
Overall it was a very pleasant brunch. Good drinks and nice dishes. After spending considerable time couped-up avoiding a COVID infection, it was nice to get out, sit in the outdoor garden and have a nice brunch with good food and good drinks!
Also, see New Lefkes for our earlier dinner experience.
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