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Barbounia, NYC


Barbounia
Executive Chef: Efraim Naon
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Neighborhood: Gramercy
Price: Brunch mains under $20, unlimited champagne cocktails extra $15
Address: 250 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10003
Phone: 212-995-0242
Hours: Lunch 11:30am – 4pm; Brunch 10am – 4pm; Dinner: Mon – Wed 5pm – 11pm, Thu  – Sat  5pm – 12am, Sunday 5pm – 10:30pm

Named after a pinkish-gold fish that is a delicacy in Mediterranean cuisine, Barbounia serves up a menu that highlights the best dishes from the region. You can start your meal with an array of Greek meze (and you should). The chef’s Asparagus and Mushroom Pizza shows off these quintessential Southern Italian ingredients. Croque Madames and Steak Frites are an homage to the South of France.  Turkish and Moroccan Eggs are self-explanatory and the tall arches and columns of the interior evoke a Moorish-inspired Spanish architecture.

A friend introduced me to Barbounia for a boozy brunch, and I’m definitely going back. The restaurant is pretty large by Manhattan standards, but fills up pretty quickly with patrons who can’t miss a chance to imbibe on the $15 all you can drink champagne cocktails. The high ceilings and arches bring an air of lightness to the space so it never feels too claustrophobic. I also love the wooden communal tables – always a nice touch that creates a feeling of coziness and comfort.

Born in Israel, chef Efraim Naon got his start as a stand-in line cook in the army after one of them suffered an injury. He did so well that he was offered the job permanently. He then worked in a restaurant while studying engineering and eventually got promoted to sous-chef. Long story short, he moved around cities in Mediterranean, honed his skills, and today we get to enjoy his food in New York City. Brunch is definitely to not be missed. I’d recommend the Meze (Tzatziki, Spicy Feta, Hummus, Roasted Eggplant, Taramousalata) and any of the specialty eggs, which by the way are one of the inspirations for the Baked Eggs Jen and I make.

Meze (left to right) Taramousalata, Tzatziki, Hummus, Roasted Garlic, Spicy Feta
This is amazing with the flatbread that comes straight out of the oven.

SPECIALTY EGGS- To be honest I forget which eggs the last 2 dishes are, but all the dishes were hearty and you can really order any combination of ingredients (lamb, spinach, chickpeas, feta, mozzarella and the like) bake them and enjoy the savory juiciness of the combinations. The first is Green Shakshuka (3 poached eggs with california creamed spinach, mozzarella & parmigiano reggiano). And a few of my friends raved about their Turkish Eggs  (Spinach, ground lamb, chickpeas, sunny-side up eggs & tahini served in skillet).

Lamb Kebab Pita – Tahini, Tomato- Cucumber Salad, and Zhoug
Great alternative to an egg dish. The zhough, a spicy Yemeni sauce, is a great addition to the traditional Mediterranean ingredients.

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