Tina and I got a chance to grab a little brunch before she headed home for the holidays.

Peels happened to be along the way to the bus stop, but ended up being a pretty ideal spot for a quick cozy Tuesday morning brunch. Its rustic cafeteria-style seating and long bar made for a comfy setting, from a quick espresso for all the local hipsters on the go, to a laid back meal while reading the paper.

Opened just recently from the guys behind Freemans, its plaid-adorned staff and homey atmosphere bear much resemblance to its sister restaurant further down south.

The fact that it was the middle of the work week probably added to the overall serenity that is in stark contrast to the chaos found at any of these trendy East Village brunch spots on the weekends. Regardless, there’s a certain authenticity and know-how that this place exudes that may make it worth the wait on the weekends.

We shared what they called Iron Sides — a flavorful grit and cheddar emulsion, with two eggs and soft mustard greens buried within a sizzling cast iron skillet. I’ve always loved cheddar grits, especially those with jalapeños. This time, the steaming greens was what balanced out each bite. While you’ll have to mix it around a bit before uncovering every component, it’s probably the most satisfying of all the egg selections on a cold winter morning.

We also split what’s probably its polar opposite item on the menu — a Bircher Muesli topped with cider oats, fruits, amaranth, and sunflower-pumpkin seeds. The colors popped beautifully out of the glass jar, with swirls of deep magenta jam and light lime-green grapes. All jumbled up, the overarching flavor was subtly sweet, and perfect with a cup of coffee.

To avoid herd mentality, I might actually prefer Peels to the other Freemans. It knows its hyperlocal audience, catering to a more youthful, busy crowd, but remains true to its soulful vintage aura. If I were still at NYU, I’d definitely capitalize on this more mainstream location!


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