Restaurant Review: Kate’s Joint

Kate’s Joint
58 Avenue B
(at 4th Street)
East Village, Manhattan

Vegiboys Rating (3/4)

With a recent morning’s wait for a Clinton Street Bakery table stretching for hours, but our desire for brunch still strong, we ended up making our way to Kate’s Joint in the East Village. Kate’s is a├é┬ávegetarian standard for NYC; it’s been around since 1996, and with a nice bar and great drink specials, it’s been attracting vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike since opening. Before the onset of the recent economic doldrums, Kate’s had even expanded itself with a Brooklyn location for those vegi-hipsters seeking a spot closer to home, though only the original restaurant currently remains.

The interior is semi-rustic; the heavy wood construction and the worn furniture make for a classic look that really helps to give it the homey, welcoming feel of a neighborhood dive bar. The staff meet those impressions well; every visit has given us friendly, comfortable, and hip waitstaff or bartenders, and this morning was no exception.

We were seated in the dining room proper (the restaurant has two rooms, both serving food, but one with a more open floor plan and the bar, while the other has a more diner-like arrangement of closely-knit tables). Our table was next to the front windows, and a jungle of windowsill plants gave us plenty of separation from the morning foot traffic on Avenue A.

For $10.95, the brunch specials at Kate’s offer a full meal for a reasonable price: all come with tea or coffee, and a choice of drinks (including OJ, grapefruit juice, screwdrivers, greyhounds, or even Budweiser for those seeking some less traditional pairings). We all requested the OJ; freshly squeezed from blood oranges, it was delicious.

Nora, our special guest-star for the meal, requested the omelet of the day stuffed with zucchini, tomato, and cheddar cheese. The omelet unfortunately lacked much seasoning; the highlight of the dish was the deliciously thick, rosemary-flavored home fries. The side of freshly made toast was also very satisfying.

Brian went with the Kate’s Benedict, served vegan style with tofu scrambled into spinach and mushrooms on a bed of toast with a hollandaise and vegan cheese. Interesting, though a bit monotonous, the dish could have used another element for some stronger contrasts.

My Huevos Rancheros were not vegan, but were also perhaps the most enjoyable of the brunch dishes (a crisp underbelly of toast with well-flavored eggs (yolks still runny), cheese, and black beans mixed on top, with a spicy salsa on the side). They were also served with the thick rosemary home fries, giving some extra heft to the meal.

To finish things off, Brian and I had the fruit crumble. Served cold, the addition of cranberry was perfect in offsetting the sweetness of the other fruits.

At $16 each, the brunch was a full meal that didn’t delve deep into the wallet. Though there aren’t many surprises in the cuisine, Kate’s works well for bar-goers looking to include some vegetarian food with their evening’s drinking, or for noshers looking for some diner-style fare in a comfortable space.

Food (2.5/4)
Atmosphere & Service
Value (3/4)

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