Sunday, September 16, 2012

Saturday Splurge: Petite Abeille (Manhattan)

I'm a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to the 'foodie' thing. For fear of total world wide web embarrassment, I'll refrain from telling you how old I was when I tried sushi for the first time... or Indian food... or anything slightly 'exotic' for that matter. I grew up on hearty, homegrown American fare - meat, potatoes and vegetables - with a side of sweet tea (no meal in Georgia is complete without sweet tea).

Yesterday, I joined my lovely friend Andrea Ryan for brunch at a super cute Belgian restaurant near Union Square, Petite Abeille. The first time I had Belgian food was actually IN Belgium, so the bar is quite high when I go to a Belgian restaurant in the U.S. of A. Petite Abeille did not disappoint.

The charming thing about it was that it's very nondescript from the outside. I can't tell you how many times I've walked down 17th street, completely oblivious to its existence. The front of the restaurant looks like a small coffee or pastry shop, but as you move past the bar, you find yourself in a delightful environment - black and white checkered floors, chalkboards on the wall displaying the day's menu, antique odds and ends scattered throughout (like vintage suitcases), Tintin comic book drawings displayed on the walls and a very lovely and intimate back patio. 

For those of you who don't live in New York, let me explain. It's very rare to sit on a patio in the city. Maybe in Brooklyn, but it'll be a cold day in hell before you find yourself on a back patio in Manhattan. Fall was in the air yesterday, so of course we opted for an open table on the patio. It felt like one of life's small victories. Patio? Hell yeah! We'll take it!

We started brunch with coffee, because honestly, what's a Saturday without coffee? Then, like good friends do, we ordered variations of the exact same thing - omelettes with mesclun salad and stoemp. What is stoemp? you ask. Good question. I had no idea, even as I was eating it. A later visit to Wikipedia informed me that stoemp is a traditional Belgian dish consisting of mashed potatoes and some sort of vegetable (in this case, leeks and onions), seasoned with thyme and laurel. One bite told me that I can get down with some stoemp. For real.

Our brunch at Petite Abeille put me on the fast track to a fantastic day... one of those days where the sun is shining, people are smiling, birds are chirping and you find yourself with a little skip in your step. Yes, it may be hard to see the connection between brunch at a Belgian restaurant and inner peace, but hey... sometimes happiness is found in the most nondescript of places.

44 West 17th St.
New York, NY 10011

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