For many, Sigmund's is synonymous with pretzels—big, chewy twists made with flavors like truffle cheddar and feta olive. With her shop on Ave B and multiple pretzel stands, Lina Kulchinsky made pretzels good again in a city where stale, flavorless street pretzels are too-often the norm.
Last summer, Sigmund's went through a total transformation from quick snack shack to friendly neighborhood restaurant. Gone is the communal table and take-out only format; now there's an inviting blond wood bar and cozy tables for two lined up along the wall. With beer taps and a full menu, they also serve a weekend brunch of the classics—but pretzel-ized.
First on the menu, and with good reason, is the Pretzel Benedict ($12). Half a pretzel roll is lightly buttered then grilled before getting topped with your choice of meat: kielbasa, pork belly, bacon, or short ribs (or greens if you're veg-inclined). I love the kielbasa, which comes nearby from J. Baczynsky Meat Market in the East Village.
Lightly smoky, the kielbasa has a nice snap when you bite into it. And as it turns out, pretzel bread makes a great base for a Benedict. It soaks up the paprika-spiked hollandaise sauce and the runny yolk without being overwhelmed. It's definitely my favorite dish of the menu.
If you're particularly famished or just hung over, go for the Corned Beef Hash ($12). Instead of the usual hash where everything is cooked together in one skillet and served well mixed, here you have a dish that's more deconstructed. It's a mound of corned beef and sauerkraut on a base of yukon gold potatoes and crowned with two well-poached eggs.
While other hash dishes usually have shredded pieces of corned beef, here the beef is cut thick and substantial. You can actually savor the meat, and you'll want to. Prepared in the kitchen, the beef is first cured and then slow cooked for 5 hours before adding in various spices.
For brunchers who want eggs, try the Baked Eggs ($10). Served in a small cast iron skillet, it's complemented by a piece of pretzel crostini. The skillet is also stuffed with a mix of seasonal mushrooms; one visit yielded port0bello, oyster, trumpet royale, and hen of the woods all cooked with herbs and a touch of truffle oil, then baked with the eggs and some gruyere.
A la carte, the brunch items are reasonably priced. There's also a spendier "full brunch" option that will set you back $22 but includes a dish or a sandwich, one brunch drink, coffee or tea, and my personal favorite—the pretzel basket.
This is one of the main reasons I keep going back to Sigmund's for brunch. There's something about a basket of small soft pretzels in flavors like sesame and cinnamon raisin that's irresistible. It comes with their homemade jam and is only available at brunch. At Sigmund's, it's fairly easy to get a table for brunch at peak hours, which is a boon if you don't want to wait to eat. It's a great local spot with thoughtful food and, yes, delicious pretzels.