After a rather late night indulging in my food dreams at Tao and going hell for leather with our dancing shoes at PH-D club in the Dream hotel, it’s fair to say that my NYC friends & I awoke with the desire for a damn good breakfast. I don’t know about you but I have read countless blog posts over the years raving about brunch at Jack’s Wife Freda, and so it was firmly at the top of my list during my most recent visit. Easy peasy, the decision was made and it’s fair to say that given the hype we were all rather looking forward to it.

Despite it being a weekday and absolutely bucketing it down with rain, there was still a solid 20-minute queue when we arrived at our chosen destination at 12pm. There was a moment’s hesitation but with some persuasion from me we waited it out huddled together under the awning. However, the older & wiser [here’s hoping…] I get, the more I believe in trusting your gut instinct, and when I peered over the menu in the window my gut was far from inspired. My usual brunch favourites of egg-smoked salmon-avocado something or other were nowhere to be seen on the menu, and in their place was a rather limited offering of foreign-sounding brunch dishes that included rosewater waffles and a duck prosciutto, cheddar béchamel and gruyere sandwich. That said, I’m all for trying new things and was more than happy to put my preferences aside in favour of trying something both different and supposedly excellent.

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The staff were great and the crowded restaurant had a very welcoming, homely (albeit squished) atmosphere. Hair of the dog was the first order of the day and three mimosas later ($12 each) we felt recharged and able to tackle our important breakfast choices. I initially leant towards getting the green shakshuka, having never had it before and with the knowledge that people seem to love it and it looks seriously appetizing in photos, but seeing the couple’s next to us arrive, the bizarrely shallow stiff green gloop was enough to put me off for life. So I played it safe, and followed our waiter’s top recommendation of two poached eggs with grilled tomato and halloumi, served with sourdough toast ($13). Despite the rather basic ingredients I still had very high hopes at this point. Amar bucked the trend ordering the breakfast bowl containing two poached eggs, red quinoa, kale, spaghetti squash, grilled tomato and avocado ($16).

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Nish and my eggs, tomato and halloumi dish was nice enough, the pesto a welcomed addition, but it was overall nothing special or out of the ordinary, and the bread was as tough as all old boot. Amar’s breakfast bowl was also a big bowl of bland, and certainly not fit for a fully grown man. We had house cured duck bacon ($6) and French fries ($7) on the side; the bacon interesting but a little too intensely meaty for my liking, though likely the fault of the duck rather than the restaurant, and the fries, again, distinctly average.

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What we lost in food we gained in mimosas, however, and after three rounds we’d racked up quite the breakfast bill, with rather sad tummies to show for it. I wanted to like Jack’s Wife Freda, I really, really did, but it missed the mark by about 100 miles for me. In retrospect, looking through people’s photos online the ingredients just look cheap and I really don’t know how it’s managed to gain such an esteemed reputation, though judging by some of the more recent reviews it looks like the wave it’s ridden for so long may be washing out.

Have you been to Jack’s Wife Freda? If so, what did you have and did you love/like/dislike it? I honestly don’t think it was a question of us ordering badly but I’d love to know more of what you think! xo

4/10