I'd been to The Vanderbilt in Prospect Heights a half-dozen times for drinks or dinner before I thought to try them for brunch—and wow, am I glad I did. Nearly everything I've tried has struck just the right line of familiar and sophisticated; satisfying on both a gut level and a culinary one.
Recently, I've been partial to the Smoked Trout Crepe ($12)—a core of softened leeks and flaky trout rolled in thin, savory crepes that encase them nicely; its mild, fishy salinity is complemented by (but not drowned in) the creamy roe-studded sauce over top. With a crisp-edged, runny-middled sunnyside egg, it's both indulgent and restrained: smart brunch food. The sweet options are equally strong: a French Toast ($9) with the thinnest of griddled crusts and a soft, almost custardlike interior; it's topped with seasonally rotating fruit (on our visit, a sweet-tart apple compote) but is the rare French toast that's delicious alone, with or without syrup or topping.
While any number of brunch places put together fixed price menus that really give you much more food (or much worse food) than you'd like to pay for, The Vanderbilt's is a pretty great deal; $20 gets you either of the above entrees or the Eggs "Vanderbilt" (essentially an eggs Benedict); an airy-interiored, beautifully crisped beignet; a choice of smoked bacon, a potato rosti, or breakfast sausage; a Bloody Mary, Bellini, or the Aperol-grapefruit-prosecco Dew Drop; and Stumptown coffee. A tiny sweet starter, a substantial savory course with meaty sides, strong coffee and a refreshing morning cocktail makes for a perfect brunch in my book.
570 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11238 (map) 718-623-0570