BrunchWith Q & A - Patrick Janelle
1. What brought you to New York? How long have you been in New York?
I grew up in Colorado. I love the mountains, but it wasn’t until college that I really began to be part of Colorado mountain culture. I started snowboarding more and moved to Aspen for a few years. After I left school, I moved to Los Angeles. I love LA, the weather and the ease and quality of life. But after a few years, I was ready for a change. So I moved to Frankfurt, Germany, where I lived for several years before moving to New York two and half years ago.
2. Favorite eating spots
My current favorite place is Pearl & Ash (220 Bowery): It’s about small sharing portions and composed plates. It’s modern cooking that focus on seasonal, fresh ingredients and a dynamic menu rather than being a specific type of regional cuisine. It’s more about what makes an interesting mix of ingredients. Their vegetable plates are fantastic and I love the octopus: crisply fried, really delicious. Their wine list is the highlight: they have all these unknown, quirky French wines from the Loire Valley.
Have you been to Estela in Nolita? Really good.
I happen to really like Acme. They have a great brunch, too. The thing with brunch at Acme is, it’s kind of really dark inside. The food is really good, but it doesn’t have that bright, daytime feeling. So I only brunch there when it’s gray and cold outside.
I don’t know Brooklyn places quite as well. I recently had dinner at The Pines in Gowanus, and I thought it was great. It was Brooklyn in the best way: casual atmosphere but a really thoughtful, delicious menu.
For brunch in Williamsburg I love to go to Reynard’s at the Wythe Hotel. Really pretty. Good coffee.
I really love vegetables. I grew up in Colorado, and I ate a lot of frozen vegetables: the typical corn, peas and carrots.
3. Favorite food memory
I love a really long chef’s tasting menu. I had a 20-course meal at Torrisi on Mulberry Street in my neighborhood, Nolita. I was there with my best friend Mallory, and we stayed for over 3 hours, finishing at least two bottles of wine. Our birthdays are two days apart, so we went there and celebrated together. It was probably one of the best meals of my life. You’ll have to go.
I’m really bad at remembering specific dishes. This was two years ago. I just remember the dishes were really thoughtful and simple and were executed really well. It’s a very small place, with perhaps 8 tables. It’s small and intimate, and it feels like a classic New York cafe, but with food that is incredible.
4. Least favorite food memory
I think I tend to purge bad experiences from my mind. Though I do remember when I have a great meal and the service is not good. It’s really frustrating, because I am paying a premium for both the food and the experience. And if the service is bad, I feel like they take for granted that I will give them business. But I won’t go back.
5. Food you cannot live without
I really love vegetables. I grew up in Colorado, and I ate a lot of frozen vegetables: the typical corn, peas and carrots. We only ate a limited range of fresh vegetable, mostly zucchini and tomatoes. Now I realize what a wide range of flavors and amazing textures vegetables produce. They can be cooked in many ways: roasted and charred, par-cooked for firmness, or thinly sliced raw for a delicate crispness. I am certainly not a vegetarian. I love meat. But like a lot of people these days, I’ve realized how delicious vegetables are and meat in small portions is a great compliment to a meal.
6. Taboo food: food that you won't ever touch or try
I am sure there are probably things I would not eat, but in general, I like to try things. I like to be adventurous.
Probably the strangest thing I’ve eaten recently was goose barnacle. I was in Spain last October, and it’s a delicacy in the Basque region. They have this really crazy, heavily textured exterior and you eat what’s inside; it’s sort of like eating bone marrow. Isn’t that the weirdest thing? It’s really slimy, probably fishy. It’s more about the experience and honestly, I don’t even remember too much of what it taste like.
7. If New York were to be a food, what would that be?
New York would be this large sumptuous buffet: overstuffed and gluttonous with burgers and pizza and bagels and donuts sitting next to tiny salads and really expensive caviar.
8. Whom you would like most to have brunch with? (living or dead, or in your fantasy)
I’m not really interested in celebrities, but I can’t help being a little cliché. I would love to meet Meryl Streep. I think she’s amazing. I have a background in performance, and the theater and acting have always been part of my life. I think that the people who are the best actors are those who are the most authentic people, who let themselves be open, and then they can transform. It’s really about being honest. I feel that’s so much what you get from Meryl Streep. She is honest and without judgment.
My fantasy would be to have the brunch out in the middle of nowhere, half way in the middle of Texas perhaps, in a little diner where there’s nothing else around. Nobody would know who she is, nobody would know who I am, and we would be surrounded by open space. But the coffee would be good!
9. Whom you would recommend that we have brunch with next?
My friend Fabien Constant. He’s a French filmmaker living in Paris, and we have dinner together every time he visits New York. He makes fashion films that are somehow more about life and people than just about the fashion. He’s creative and hard-working, and he has success and amazing network around him, but he’s always humble about his accomplishments.
Brunch Courses of the Day
Cortado / $4
Flat White / $4
Pancakes with berries and lemon sauce / $9
Corn Fritta with red pepper sauce / $11