It had not even been 48-hours since my return from Hong Kong but, jet-lag be damned, I was eager to meet Deidre for brunch at Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar. Upon our arrival, we realized that Ayza did not open until 3pm and, clearly, did not host a Sunday brunch. "Where to?" Deidre asked. We were at the crossroads of No Man's Land Street and Restaurant Wasteland Avenue. "Let's just walk down 5th Avenue," I said, "surely, we'll run in to something."
As we walked by ilili, a light bulb went off in my head. I had recently read about their new brunch service and, without another option, Deidre and I decided to check it out. Upon being seated, I took a moment and looked around at the spacious, sophisticated dining room: most of the tables were occupied by Lebanese couples and families. This, I concluded, was a very positive sign.
ilili's brunch menu is divided in to two parts: a $27 prix fixe option, which includes coffee or juice, one alcoholic beverage (Pomegranate Cava, Mimosa, or Bellini), an entrée, and a side dish; or traditional a-la-carte. For Deidre and me, the decision to go "prix fixe" was a no-brainer. Choosing which appetizer and entrée to order, on the other hand, was a bit more difficult.
Our server was gracious and knowledgeable in answering questions pertaining to the menu. Below, you will find photographs of my meal with respective descriptions captioned under each picture:
To wash down my meal, I chose to alternate sipping between coffee and a flute filled with delicious Pomegranate Cava.
For my entree, I chose the "Chakchouka Eggs in Cocotte." Served in a cast-iron skillet was a casserole-like dish composed of three sunny-side-up eggs and a deeply flavorful, spicy tomato sauce. An arugula salad and hash brown "dumplings" - a fancy version of tater tots - accompanied.
As my side, I chose the "Mekanek," which were links of fragrant lamb sausage sauteed with olive oil and lemon. These little morsels paired harmoniously with the zesty eggs.
Pillowy and puffy handmade pita bread accompanied both my and Deidre's brunch entrees.
Conclusion I wasn't just impressed with my brunch at ilili, I was blown away. From the monetary value of the prix-fixe option, to the quality of ingredients and passion added to each dish, I highly recommend sprinting, not walking, to this restaurant in order to experience this fabulous weekend treat for yourself. There have only been a few, not even a handful of, meals that delighted me from start to finish, and this brunch at ilili was, most certainly, one of them.