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The Breakfast Revival Comes to Brooklyn

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Serious cooks are getting mighty serious about breakfast in this town. And as an early riser and serious eater, all I can do is say yay, halleleujah, and it's about time!

Because there was a time, not too long ago, when breakfast choices in New York were limited to Greek coffee shops, retro (and real) diners, and overpriced hotel dining rooms. (Barney Greengrass was, and still is, a delightful anachronistic exception.) Egg in Williamsburg, Cookshop, Trestle on Tenth, and Locanda Verde have led the serious breakfast wave, and now here come the Frankies, Frank Castronova and Frank Falcinelli. Their newest venture, Prime Meats, is open for breakfast seven days a week at 7 a.m.

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While I couldn't convince the serious eaters to get up that early to check Prime Meats out, I did manage to get Robyn, Erin, and Kathy out there on Labor Day, though I'm sure the principal enticement was the fact that I was paying the check and not the pleasure of my company.

No matter. The six of us managed to order just about the entire breakfast menu (the exceptions being the French breakfast pastries from Ceci Cela and the burger, which we had already sampled a few weeks back). And that breakfast menu turns out to be a model of seriously delicious consistency. There wasn't a loser in the bunch. From French toast to perfectly fried eggs over-easy to a fine trout salad, Prime Meats delivered on the promise of serious chefs thinking about breakfast in this town.

With visions of Karen DeMasco's supremely delicious breakfast baked goods at Locanda Verde dancing in our heads, we started off the meal with an olive oil mini-bundt cake and a slab of the stout cake, along with a buttered, braided pretzel roll. All were really tasty but not sublime, so they didn't quite prepare us for what came after.

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French toast ($10) with excellent warm maple syrup was perfect. It was everything I want French toast to be, crispy on the outside, tender and not at all soggy or heavy on the inside. Why can't all French toast be this good?

Oat aficionado Erin Zimmer was mightily impressed with our bowl of steel cut oats, topped with the same great maple syrup ($6). They popped in the mouth, soft and tender without being mushy.

I don't think I've ever met a breakfast sandwich I didn't like, so it's not surprising that I really appreciated this version, which I ordered with bacon ($6 without meat, $9 with). The cheese was great, and so was the Faicco's thick cut bacon, but the housemade buttermilk biscuit could have been lighter and less dense, and the scrambled eggs were slightly overcooked.

The grilled Kassler ham and cheese ($8) would have made a most excellent breakfast sandwich, if it had been made with rye bread instead of too-thick slices of challah. (According to our server, chef William Prouty alternates the two breads on this particular sandwich).

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I loved the filling in the earthy Gruyere & sweet onion omelet ($8), but I like my omelets a tad runny, softer than what was put before us.

Steak, eggs, and potato rosti ($14) came with a thin, pinkish 4-ounce Creekstone Farms strip steak, two perfectly fried, salted eggs over easy, and a slab of rosti that might be the best hash browns you can get in this town.

The most unusual breakfast offering is the mushrooms with poached egg and bratwurst ($12). A whole mess of sauteed wild mushrooms is topped by a single poached egg and accompanied by a fine grilled bratwurst. Break the yolk of the egg, mix it up with the mushrooms, and you have one earthy plate of meaty, gooey, 'shroomy breakfast goodness. Cut up the bratwurst and add it to the mushroom and egg mixture, and it gets even earthier and meatier.

The rest of the table, seemingly concerned about my health, made me order the composed smoked trout salad ($10), and boy, was I glad they insisted on it. Delicate house-smoked trout was mixed in with pickled red onions, local greens, and a horseradish and quark dressing, all atop a spelt crepe. Russ & Daughters, please take note. This whole affair would taste really great on a bagel or toasted bialy.

All this seriously delicious food, wireless, and Stumptown coffee? The Frankies can cook breakfast for me any time.

Prime Meats
465 Court Street, Brooklyn NY 11231 (at Luquer; map)
718-254-0327
Service: Attentive, forthright, knowledgeable
Setting: A restored corner bar with a pleasant garden attached
Compare It To: Char No. 4, General Greene
Must-Haves: French toast, rosti, mushrooms with poached egg and bratwurst, smoked trout salad
Cost: $20 including tax and tip for a hearty breakfast
Grade: A-

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