Every Sunday, as you roll out of bed and head to brunch, Bwog will be doing the same. Except we’ll be writing about our brunching experience in hopes of improving your next one. Bwog’s Sunday Brunch will run every Sunday.
As great as some Sunday brunch specials are, brunch is a remnant of a broken system that says both that you should eat breakfast well before I ever want to be awake, and that Sunday brunch is a crazy way to be bad one day of the week, sleep in, and eat your breakfast in the afternoon. The Basement Pizza Coffee House (at 125th and Amsterdam) has a brunch suited to New York City rather than Hampingtonshire, England: you can get any food at any time, so if you want to roll out of bed and grab breakfast at 1 pm, you’re good to go any day of the week.
Despite its strange name, Basement Pizza Coffee House is a (relatively) old school American eatery – the manager wears red pinstripes, the cash register has those big analog numbers, the service is friendly but gruff, and signs, some of them cardboard, ask customers to refrain from giving their orders directly to the short order cook and children to stick to getting a slice and a soda to go. The food is delicious, cheap, and unhealthy, and the breakfast menu is no exception. The real dealmaker is the breakfast platter, which gets you two eggs any style, two pieces of generously buttered toast, a breakfast meat, and a choice of grits, home fries, or French fries, for somewhere between $3.75 (for bacon or sausage) to $4.75 (for pastrami). The waffle and pancake platters also offer generous servings in the same price range. The thick pancakes can be served folded with a filling in the middle, like strawberries in a thick syrup.
Listening to our group eat, you could ascertain a lot about the meal: “lots of food” was repeated several times, and “we can should do this more often” was also overheard, along with “this is how you get a heart attack.” Basement Pizza doesn’t do anything fancy with their food, but they do pay attention to detail – their cheeseburgers always come with two slices of cheese, the home fries are never charred, and the corned beef hash is cooked so that it’s crispy but not burnt on the outside and soft but hot on the inside. The pastrami isn’t what you’d get at Katz’s, but compared to the dry, stringy stuff you get a lot of places around here, it’s surprisingly juicy with strong (almost too strong) flavor.
The coffee at Basement Pizza, an average brew that gets the job done, costs $0.85 and comes in those ubiquitous Greek coffee cups, but if you want a $3.50 beverage you can go for a thick milk shake (the normal milk shake is $3.00). It is what it says it is: they give you an abundance of straws so that you can use double barrels on the sugary, viscous fluid. They also do malts and egg creams.
Just to clarify, Basement Pizza Coffee House doesn’t really have a basement, and it’s not really what people think of as a “coffee house.” However weird the name, it’s not something you should miss out on, although it’s probably not somewhere you should make a habit of going. That’s how you get a heart attack, you know.
Photos by David Iscoe and Jason Patinkin.