After discovering that our anniversary would fall on a Sunday, and that none of the restaurants on our list of “top places to try” would be open, I tried to opt for a more sentimental route to celebrate our first year as a married couple. On our honeymoon, we spent eight days in Egypt and eight days in Greece, splitting our time exploring two ancient civilizations and eating many great things along the way. For dinner, I knew I wanted to try Kefi, a Greek restaurant on the upper west side that has received several good reviews and features a menu packed with items I love to eat. Trying to find an Egyptian restaurant in Manhattan for lunch, however, proved to be a more daunting task.
Yes, I know there are several Egyptian restaurants in the outer boroughs that have received rave reviews and have been touted by Robert Sietsema, for example, but let’s face it – we’re both too lazy to trek out of Manhattan on a Sunday morning. (Or any time, really. We need to get over that, as I know we’re missing out on a lot of good eating.) The only place that came up in my search online was the Horus Café on East 10th and Avenue A, which had standard Middle Eastern fare (kebabs, hummus, shawarma, etc.) listed on its menu. I must admit that I was intrigued by the “Cairo Falafel,” as the best falafel I’ve ever eaten was at the breakfast buffet at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Cairo. Egyptian falafel is made with fava beans rather than chickpeas, which I found to be tastier and more moist than versions here in the U.S. And fortunately for us, every falafel we had in Egypt was freshly fried, resulting in a smooth, almost creamy interior, with a hot and crispy outer layer. Many places shaped their falafel like miniature donuts, which presented even more surface area to crisp up.
Falafel donuts at the Carvery restaurant in Cairo
I was hoping that the Horus Café’s falafel would be made in similar fashion. But, as Josh pointed out, there was nothing else that stood out on the menu, and the “Sizzling Lamb Fajita” served with tortilla, guacamole, salsa and sour cream certainly does not sound Egyptian. So instead, we decided to sleep in, cook up our own brunch and pop open a bottle of champagne that we’ve been saving.
When it comes to breakfast/brunch foods, I tend to favor the savory items. But, that doesn’t stop me from stealing bites of someone else’s french toast or pancakes or waffles, especially when they’re covered in fruit and whipped cream or contain chocolate chips. I like a combination of salty and sweet, so when it came time to pick the menu for our brunch, I opted for bacon, smoked salmon eggs benedict (minus the hollandaise) and waffles.
Bacon – a no-brainer. I just laid out the strips on our flat top griddle and cooked them until very crispy. Despite Josh’s protests, I wanted turkey bacon because I knew we would end up eating the whole package, and turkey bacon just seems healthier, even though it’s really not that much better for you. Believe me, I don’t have anything against regular bacon, but for this meal, the bacon was just a sideshow.
Turkey bacon cooking on the griddle
The smoked salmon eggs benedict were easy enough, and something that we’ve prepared many times before. We toasted english muffins in a 425 degree oven, poached a few eggs in boiling water with some red wine vinegar mixed in, and then layered it all together with some store-bought smoked salmon. We added a sprinkling of fresh dill from our windowsill planter, which really brightened everything up.
Eggs poaching in vinegar and water
Now for the main event: waffles. We received a waffle iron as a wedding present and it’s been sitting in our cabinets ever since. I recently read about a waffle recipe via The Girl Who Ate Everything that I’ve been wanting to try, so this presented the perfect opportunity.
Shiny new waffle iron just waiting to be used
The verdict: so-so. I loved the texture of these waffles – they were light and airy and extremely crispy. However, even when drenched in syrup, they didn’t provide the sweet aspect that I was looking for, as the recipe doesn’t contain any sugar. And too much syrup made the waffles soggy, negating the crispy aspect that I loved so much. With a few minor tweaks, I think it could be a really great recipe. Just a side note – be sure to really butter up your waffle iron and get in between the grooves! I thought I used enough butter on the first batch and my waffles got stuck – fail!
Broken waffles fail
But overall, it was a really satisfying and relaxing brunch for us eaten at our coffee table in front of the TV. We enjoy cooking and experimenting with recipes, and we didn’t have to deal with the crowds and the waiting that is often associated with the Manhattan brunch scene. And the bonus is that I didn’t have to feel embarrassed about wanting to order two different entrees to satisfy both my salty and sweet cravings.
A yummy home cooked brunch and unbroken waffles