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genericeric

Prune, Chef Gabrielle Hamilton's Italian-Influenced American at 54 E. 1st St. in East Village

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Having heard of Prune through its chef's popular cookbook ("Blood, Bones and Butter"), I hadn't tried it before coming here on a cold, rainy Sunday for brunch this weekend.

Brunch is a hard time to judge a restaurant - I'm sure the staff would rather be elsewhere and often many of the customers would rather be at home in their beds (particularly with the aforementioned weather), but the 30 minute wait outside suggested that enough people thought this was worthwhile.

Sitting at the bar, the bartender was amiable and efficient and could make an excellent Southwestern Bloody Mary ($12) - one of 8ish bloody mary options on their beverage menu.  Its always odd to see bars in New York line up customer orders for a half hour, just waiting to deliver our needed libations at 12:01pm due to an antiquated blue law.

I ordered what was the finest Huevos Rancheros I've yet eaten - two eggs baked into the tomato/chili sauce with a light topping of white cheese, served with black beans and a little avocado ($15).  +1 received what appeared to be a technically perfect omelet with cheese and bacon, though it seemed to lack a certain penache, and the +2 ordered an omelet with fried orders that looked, and I was told was, delicious.  The Monte Cristo's coming out of the kitchen made me wish I'd had my cardiologist on call so I could have ordered one...

All in all, a very pleasant meal that made me want to return for dinner.  One note - this place is small.  Small to the extent that I found my 6'3" frame grew to be uncomfortable relatively quickly.  Maybe this helps turn the tables at a popular spot faster, but definitely not a location I wanted to linger after brunch.

(We paid in cash as our local +2 suggested they may not take credit cards - probably worth confirming if you're planning a visit...)

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We had a pretty good meal there maybe 4 or 5 years ago. Not rave-worthy but definitely solid. I have a love hate relationship with the book.

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On 1/20/2015 at 11:08 AM, Pool Boy said:

 I have a love hate relationship with the book.

Are you be willing to expand on the love-hate thing for the book?

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On 3/6/2018 at 11:21 AM, curiouskitkatt said:

Are you be willing to expand on the love-hate thing for the book?

It's been several years since I read the book. She seemed to love being a chef a tiny bit, and hating it a lot. And then the whole marriage thing to the guy where she seemed to get very little and gave a lot....it just seemed like she had opposite priorities to which she refused to give priority to. I mean, you have to be you and you also have to do what you have to do but....I do not know. Maybe I need to circle back to it and see what I think now years later.

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My first visit there was in 2005 2003. My notes say:

Quote

Roasted marrow bones [parsley salad, toast points] (me)

Breaded sweetbreads and bacon (my companion)

Dry-aged steak in a port-wine reduction, parsley butter (me)

Can't remember what he had. Chicken, I think. But not sure.

We also had a side of stewed chestnuts with fresh ricotta. This was a high point of the dinner.

Orange sherbet (stunningly fresh and sweet. There was a second flavor that I eventually manged to pinpoint to buttermilk. A bit unusual, imo.) (me)

Apple galette with rosewater and orange sauce (my companion)

Not bad, although the bits of pickle in the parsley salad that accompanied the roast marrow bones were a bit of a surprise and off-putting. The sherbet might have been better if they had left the buttermilk out and used regular milk instead. The steak was an unusually fatty piece of steak, but otherwise tolerable.

I note that after the two tables next to us left, the sound level in the room reduced considerably.

I give the experience a 6 out of a possible 10, meaning that I might come back....in about nine or ten months. Not a "go-to" place in my book, although my companion thought otherwise.

Fast forward a little over a decade later.

10863859_977495288967888_2226894831355284046_o.jpg.ffabd302b4f32089ab2baa21c1b95f1a.jpg

Lamb sausage, Malpeque oysters, stewed tomatoes

11705519_977495852301165_678140296292801848_o.jpg.10f250047796ff1623a03a4cff412cf1.jpg

Newport steak with parsley-shallot butter, served with an English muffin, soft-boiled eggs, and potatoes rösti.

I might have to rethink that bit about a "not a go-to place".

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8 hours ago, Pool Boy said:

It's been several years since I read the book. She seemed to love being a chef a tiny bit, and hating it a lot. And then the whole marriage thing to the guy where she seemed to get very little and gave a lot....it just seemed like she had opposite priorities to which she refused to give priority to. I mean, you have to be you and you also have to do what you have to do but....I do not know. Maybe I need to circle back to it and see what I think now years later.

I appreciate your response. I am guilty of holding chefs on a pedestal, so do not mind my inquiry. I recently have gone back and watched episodes of Hamilton on Mind of a Chef, and just love her no nonsense approach to food. I admit I have not had read her book, but am in love in her cookbook. I am always interested in the story behind the lines, what shapes a Chef, what makes him or her tick, as well of learning what drives a them to push through or ignore trends. Prune is one of those places that if not owned by the Chef is enslaved to the astronomical rents in Manhattan. I feel it is a matter of time that its's doors will close as a result of higher leases, and I want to be able to venture there before it is no longer.

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16 hours ago, Pool Boy said:

It's been several years since I read the book. She seemed to love being a chef a tiny bit, and hating it a lot. And then the whole marriage thing to the guy where she seemed to get very little and gave a lot....it just seemed like she had opposite priorities to which she refused to give priority to. I mean, you have to be you and you also have to do what you have to do but....I do not know. Maybe I need to circle back to it and see what I think now years later.

I thought the first two-thirds of the book were pretty fascinating -- she does indeed seem to resent being a chef/restaurant owner on some level, but her path there is unusual -- and the last third, which is a chronicle of her failing marriage -- a little tedious.  I confess that having read her book and several things she's published in the Times and I felt rather sorry for the husband.  

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On 3/8/2018 at 3:02 PM, Waitman said:

I thought the first two-thirds of the book were pretty fascinating -- she does indeed seem to resent being a chef/restaurant owner on some level, but her path there is unusual -- and the last third, which is a chronicle of her failing marriage -- a little tedious.  I confess that having read her book and several things she's published in the Times and I felt rather sorry for the husband.  

I pretty much agree with your assessment, at least up to the beginning of your last sentence. Not sure how that all worked or did not, but just found that part of her life counter to her cheffing life. It did not make much sense to me how that worked, or rather did not seem to. Had dinner at Prune with friends years and years ago, and enjoyed it quite a bit, so she is gifted for sure.

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they got divorced and she's since married her Prune co-chef Ashley Merriman

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