Green Fig – An Israeli Brunch in Midtown
By Julianne Clancy; Photos by Sean vonLembke
I have a confession to make: I don’t generally like savory brunches. It’s blasphemy, I know, given how many amazing multicultural restaurants in New York City serve up spectacular brunches that leave eggs and bacon in the dust. Something about me is just a traditionalist. However, after eating brunch at Green Fig, I may be a convert. The spectacular Israeli-inspired, boozy pre-fixe at this swanky midtown eatery completely blew my mind—and was instantly added to my pre-theater-matinee go-tos.
Green Fig is hidden away on the fourth floor of the Yotel hotel on 42nd and 10th. With a modern aesthetic, huge windows overlooking 10th Ave, high ceilings, bright green accents, and tons of succulent plants, Green Fig was a pleasure to walk into. At once hip and relaxing, we immediately felt at home and ready to dive into the eclectic brunch menu. As we began to look over our menus, our waiter brought us the Mimosa of the Day, which was made with fresh blood orange juice. Light, not too sweet, and slightly floral, this was a fabulous mimosa, kicked up just enough to make it special while maintaining the refreshing quality that makes mimosas so delightful.
Unable to pick just one dish (though the servings were not scant, so one would be plenty on a normal day), we decided to split an assortment of four favorites. We started in with the signature dish of Green Fig: Hamshuka, a traditional Israeli dish that features a bed of Hummus topped with a rich, spicy, Tomato and Meat Sauce. The Hamshuka at Green Fig was absolutely heavenly. The beef ragu was sweet and acidic, with smoky notes of paprika, beautifully caramelized onions, and a tiny hit of heat at the very end. The hummus was super creamy, with lots of tahini, giving it a rich nutty flavor, and a deliciously strong olive oil flavor. The pita that was served to sop up the glorious mess was fluffy and sturdy, as it needed to be to help us get every last morsel off that plate. I felt like the Hamshuka was like what sloppy joe dreams of being—at once rich, elegant, aromatic, and comforting.
From there, we moved on to one of the most inventive dishes that Green Fig offers in their wildly creative Falafel Waffle—Poached Eggs, Bacon, and Tahini on top of a Fava Falafel Waffle. This was basically a fun play on an Israeli Eggs Benedict. The egg was perfectly poached, the bacon was super salty and crispy, and the sauce was rich and complex from the tahini and the pickled onion layered on top. But it was the waffle itself that made us fall in love. Super crisp and crunchy on the outside and beautifully soft and spicy on the inside, I could not stop eating this. The balance of flavors was impeccable—while this was definitely a spicy dish, the spice was never overwhelming but just enough to keep me going back for bite after bite.
Up next was a breakfast sandwich—Green Fig style. The Tunsian Croissant Sandwich—Homemade Tuna Confit, Preserved Lemon, Olives, Potato—was not your typical egg-and-cheese-between-bread. From the French croissant, to the cilantro garnish, to the 12-hour egg (an Israeli tradition of cooking an egg low and slow on the sabbath), this was a beautiful mix of cultures in one fabulous bite. The tuna was rich and unctuous, the preserved lemon was funky and sour, the potatoes were soft and herbacious, and the pickle added just enough salt and crunch to round out all of the flavors. The oregano tahini dipping sauce was the perfect final note on a wonderfully crafted, hand-held dish.
Every truly great brunch should have at least a touch of sweetness, and Green Fig did not disappoint. The Moroccan Crepe, filled with Pomegranate, Mint, Yogurt, Granola, and Honey, was unlike any crepe I’ve ever eaten, in the most glorious of ways. More of a layered, biscuity flatbread, the outside had crunchy, thin layers while the inside had the incomparable texture of dough that is just under-baked to perfection. The sourness of the lemony yogurt paired beautifully with the sweetness of the honey and pomegranate and the herbal notes of the mint, while the granola gave the dish nice pops of crunchiness. This was like a breakfast baklava—my mouth is watering just thinking of it.
Before we left, we just had to try a few cocktails off of Green Fig’s fabulous drink list. The Social-ist, made with Gin, Lemon Juice, and Cucumber, was refreshing and bright. A clever play on a classic Gimlet, the cucumber gave the drink an interesting, verdant nose while the bartender definitely had a deft hand with the simple syrup, leaving the drink nicely sweet without getting anywhere near cloying. The Suite Surrender, made of Absolute, Passion Fruit, and Pomegranate Seeds, was surprisingly sour for such a pink drink. Rich with fruit flavors with beautifully exotic floral notes, this was definitely more of drink to brighten and pucker the palate than a traditional sweet punch—which I absolutely loved.
We left Green Fig stuffed, satisfied, and determined to go back again. Whether you’re looking for a fun place to grab a bite before a Sunday matinee or hoping for a quiet location to share some cocktails and inventive cuisine, Green Fig is definitely a highlight of the midtown restaurant scene.