Eggs with dates (pictured above) are what drew me to Balade's brunch—a combo that I knew I had to try. But everything that led up to the eggs proved to be at least as much a surprise. First came a basket of pillowy house bread, each piece shaped like an oversized almond, pliant and warm and waiting to be dipped in olive oil and zaatar.
Then, a few mezze—tart and thick lebne served alongside a fresh and vibrant fava bean salad. Coffee comes in a beautiful gilded vessel, poured tableside into tiny, ornate cups, its flavor redolent of licorice, strong and thick. And only then, after settling into the coziness of the morning, do the main dishes come.
The anticipated eggs with dates ($10) are served in a dainty clay pot, and though the serving is a bit small, the preceding spread more than compensates. Diners can choose the preparation of their eggs, but waiters recommend scrambled. Indeed, they do a nice job producing a fluffy and creamy base for the dish; the rest is quite simple, with chopped dates and a dash of salt to finish. It's nothing that can't be made at home, but something different than you'd see on most brunch menus.
More exciting, perhaps, is the Lahme Baajin ($10), a Lebanese breakfast pizza that's made atop the same dough that puffs up into house bread when it's not covered in toppings. It sounds like a stretch, perhaps, that the breakfast pizza trend would find a Lebanese iteration, but the flavors are as authentic as it gets. The meat takes on spicy, sweet, and acidic flavors from a seasoning of allspice and pomegranate molasses. It's combined with tomatoes and onions for some mellower notes and then served with wedges of lemon for a dish that's complex and exciting. Sure, it's technically a breakfast pizza, but there's nothing other than nomenclature to wedge it into today's big American dining trend.
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