Combining gourmet takes on comfort food with a friendly, restorative atmosphere, The Gander offers something special to the people of New York – a nice quiet brunch joint.
Of course, The Gander offers everything from weekday breakfast and lunch to dinner and happy hour. I visited for a Sunday brunch, and I couldn’t have been happier with my timing. Centered in Manhattan’s Flat Iron District and a five minute walk from Union Square, The Gander is the latest American restaurant from Chef Jesse Schenker.
It’s a surprising large space, with a bar and a few tables immediately greeting the visitor. The rear dining room blends booths and tables in space large enough to offer each a tiny slice of privacy. The color scheme is muted and lighting warm — putting the visitor at ease. Within The Gander’s walls, a diner can take his or her time — relax, eat, converse and enjoy.
From the floor manager to the host to the wait staff, the service was consistently friendly and low key. While the brunch session brought in a smaller crowd than the Happy Hour or dinner hour might attract, the vibe of The Gander should keep even a crowded floor casual and welcoming for everyone from individuals to couples to families.
While identifying itself as contemporary American, the menu is skillfully eclectic. For example, the Sunday afternoon Brunch menu included everything from traditional breakfast selections to Italian and Mexican selections. I went with the Chorizo, Fried Eggs, Tortilla, White Beans and Pickled Jalapeño, while my lovely brunch guest tried the Casarecci with Buffalo Taleggio, Mushrooms and Garlic Parmesan.
Any brunch visitor more tuned typical breakfast offerings have everything from German Pancakes to Biscuits and Gravy with Pork Sausage. The breakfast plates arrive with a side selection of pastries and an ample selection coffee, teas and juices.
Portion sizes are adequate without going overboard — encouraging sharing between guests or the choosing of multiple plates for sampling. No matter what menu selection arrives at the table, the preparation for each item is precise and delicate — keeping the chef’s personal touch in focus in every bite.
There’s no elitist New York attitude to be found anywhere in The Gander, and there’s no pressure for any guest to do anything but enjoy time at its tables. The best example I can give is the simple fact that my companion and I stayed at the restaurant for about two and a half hours as we tried various foods, took notes, asked questions, etc. That’s a table in a New York restaurant taken up on a beautiful busy Sunday afternoon. It was obvious to us that we were welcome to linger as long as we wished — as though a diner at The Gander is more of a friend than a paying customer.
When in the market for a Brunch spot, I don’t think there’s anything more appealing than an attitude like that.