I'm a big fan of sweet dishes gone savory and vice-versa, which is one of the reasons that I was drawn to the creative offerings at Permanent Brunch, the newly-opened East Village hotspot. No matter how many times I looked at the menu, there was no denying that the Ham & Cheese Stuffed French Toast was calling my name--a cross between my favorite sweet brunch dish and a much-loved savory, too? I was totally there.
The dish arrived piled over a bed of haricots verts and yellow wax beans--a clear indication that it's intentionally composed in a way that would make it balanced enough to eat for dinner as well as proper brunch. (A clever scheme for the PB kitchen, indeed). I pushed my greens to the side (who eats haricots verts for breakfast?) and got right to the fluffy sandwich I'd been preparing for.
The first bite yielded smooth, silky cheese--they're using 5 Spoke Creamery's Tumbleweed cheese, which is like a one-upped version of fancy cream cheese--and hardly any meat. The Vermont smoked ham revealed itself more towards the middle of the sandwich, but I found that I enjoyed my French Toast with it as much as I did without--at the end of the day, the Tumbleweed was the real star. A Dijon-Maple jus on the plate added an interesting note of flavor (I later found out that it contained a secret ingredient of OJ!) but was so runny it made the toast a bit soggier than I would have liked. Note to the house--reduce that sauce into a dipping glaze, and you'll have a real golden ticket on your hands.
As a side note, Permanent Brunch offers an entire section of the menu devoted to artisanal bacon, which I anticipate will be exciting news to many diners (my companion nearly jumped out of his seat). On our visit, the hands down favorite was the Burger's Smokehouse Country Bacon, which is sugar-cured in Missouri.
95 First Avenue, New York NY 10003 (map)
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