Breakfast at Jeffrey's Grocery

20110116-133076-jeffreys case.jpg.JPG

[Photographs: Ashley Muir Bruhn]

Though Jeffrey's Grocery opened after a complete gutting and redesign (the space was formerly a vet's office), it has the feel of an old general store (meets diner, meets oyster bar) that has been around the corner for years. Does the concept sound familiar? Fans of Brooklyn's Marlow & Sons will find themselves right at home. That on-trend, vintage-Americana look has been carefully crafted by Gabriel Stulman of Joseph Leonard and Little Owl fame--which explains why the place has been packed for dinner since it opened last fall.

The vibe at breakfast, however, is neighborhoody and low-key: we stopped in to find the pastry counter full of freshly baked cakes and muffins, and just a few lone diners scattered throughout the room, quietly sipping their drip-brewed Stumptown coffee.

20110116-133076-jeffreys pastries.jpg.JPG

The kitchen is closed in the morning, but there are plenty of options for a light meal; we couldn't resist trying a little bit of everything.

20110116-133076-jeffreys muffins.jpg.JPG

Cranberry and Blueberry Muffins ($4 each) look almost identical, the only obvious difference being that the top of the Cranberry is dusted with white sugar while the blueberry has a thicker brown-sugar, crumbly crust.

20110116-133076-jeffreys blueberry.jpg.JPG

The latter is better for the sweet-toothed, but the plump, very tart cranberries were a nice surprise; we only wish there were more berries in both.

20110116-133076-jeffreys olive oil cake.jpg.JPG

The Olive Oil Bundt Cake ($4) tastes more of orange--visible zest and all--than of olive oil, but it's namesake ingredient would be hard to miss: it's incredibly moist.

20110116-133076-jeffreys triple berry loaf.jpg.JPG

Next we sampled the Triple Berry Loaf ($3.50): Crisp edges give way to dense, buttermilk-style cake, and a mix of tart and sweet filling--raspberry, blueberry, and strawberry.

20110116-133076-jeffreys pretzel muffins.jpg.JPG

Winning the prize for cutest package are the very small pretzel muffins--filled with either salmon and cucumber ($7); brie and green-tomato chutney ($3); or brie, ham, butter and a spot of Dijon ($4). We tried the two brie combos. The pretzel bread has a traditional lye-bathed crust with a warm, malty flavor--it only seemed to be missing those few large salt crystals. The brie was overly mild, but lent a buttery, creamy texture to the few bites this little package affords.

20110116-133076-jeffreys croissant.jpg.JPG

The croissant sandwich ($7) is a much larger affair, requiring a two-hand hold for that first bite. While the croissant won't be winning any best of city awards, it's no slouch in the buttery-flaky category--especially with the addition of extra butter under the ham and Emmentaler. The ham is cut thick and we appreciated that it tasted of ham, as opposed to honey-glaze or brine. As with the brie, we found the Swiss to be surprisingly mild. Maybe something more pungent would be imprudent for a morning commute, but with a well-stocked case of salumi and cheese so close-by, it would be nice to pair this with a cheese that's strong enough to stand on its own.

20110116-133076-jeffreys choccoffeecake.jpg.JPG

But even in a crowd of winners—these were all superior to what you'll find at the average bakery counter—the Chocolate Coffee Cake ($4) was the standout. The chocolate is a subtle flavor, most pronounced on the cake's crust, and visible in a very thin ribbon that runs through the middle. Baked in a muffin tin, the cake is the perfect texture—light and fluffy on the inside, crisp on the outside. In a word: delicious.

Jeffrey's Grocery

172 Waverly Place, New York NY 10014 (map) 646-398-7630