Brunch at Vandaag is something to be reckoned with. The kitchen does wonders by night, but their weekend brunch offerings are just as impressive. It begins with one of the best morning pastry baskets ($6) I've yet to come across. On a recent visit, it included a shatteringly flaky cheese and raspberry danish; a tangerine poppy muffin; a huge cream biscuit with an impressive crumb; and two generous slabs of sticky carrot cake, all served with homemade salted nutella, cream cheese frosting, apricot jam, and butter. More than enough for two, but too delicious not to gobble up in its entirety.
From there, the entrees don't disappoint. Rookwurst is the menu's splurge at $15, with split links of smoked Dutch sausage atop a thick, sturdy slice of deeply flavored homemade rye. To either side, poached eggs are nestled on mustard hollandaise, the smooth emulsion bearing just enough acid to offset the rich and smoky flavors. As much as all the other components challenge the traditional Benedict, it's the eggs that come across as the dish's winning touch: each is poached so expertly that, though beautifully runny, the yolks manage to stay in place, tautly confined for continued dipping pleasure.
It may be featured at dinner and lunch, but the Hete Bliksem, or "Hot Lightning," seems too perfectly inclined for brunch to skip. Its simple description of fingerling potatoes and bacon is anything but comprehensive: The fingerlings first get cooked in stroop syrup—a cinnamon-spiked caramel—giving them a mildly sweet flavor and an extra snappy, crispy texture. Those get tossed in some cayenne, which outdoes the sweetness and adds complexity. Benton's Bacon, intensely smoky and filled with maple flavor, shares the same teasing sweetness as the spuds—something that's cut by leaves of thyme and tiny dices of pickled green apple. Together, it's a strange symphony that no list of bizarre ingredients can add up to, bearing all the familiarity of the usual brunch notes but with a certain depth of flavor that's rare even at dinnertime. At just $8, it's one of the city's most accessible mind-blowing dishes. All plates considered, Vandaag's is a rare brunch treat to linger on, converse about, and keep mulling over days later.