Candy-loaded milkshakes from Black Tap. Teardrop cakes too pretty to eat. Rainbow everything. Food crazes, meet Project Brunch. The new breakfast/lunch spot in Staten Island is making headlines for its over-the-top offerings, like blueberry-batter pancakes, tiramisu French toast, and a BLT with panko-coated tomatoes and herb aioli.
Of course, I needed to visit. And now that I have, all I can say is this: I must return. Multiple times. Until my fiancé and I have sampled everything on the menu, plus the daily specials, which were Oreo pancakes and reuben waffles during our visit last Saturday with Todd’s parents. We arrived at the restaurant around 9 a.m., worried we might be met with a long wait and lines extending out the door. From the outside, the spot looked sleek and modern, with big windows that let in tons of light.
Inside, we were pleasantly surprised to find only a 15-minute wait and a friendly atmosphere. The minimalist space evoked hipster cool and rustic charm; its wood and tin accents felt homey and low-key. It’s one room was smaller than we’d expected, but I appreciated that the tables were spaced well and didn’t feel crowded together. The noise level hummed at a low murmur that faded into the background. Overall, both the restaurant and its staff were extremely pleasant and welcoming.
While waiting, we perused the menu. I bounced back and forth between getting something simple—caramelized grapefruit; mashed avocado on whole grain toast, topped with grilled tomatoes and an egg any style; oatmeal with fresh berries, raisins, almonds, and brown sugar—or something extravagant. I love anything and everything s’mores, so I really wanted the s’mores waffle (graham cracker and marshmallow batter! a torched marshmallow on top! delicious hot fudge!). But since Todd planned to get the s’mores hot chocolate, I decided on savory instead of sweet. Todd’s mom ordered a cappuccino, which was served in a mason jar and brimming with foam. Todd’s dad and I both stayed classic with “bottomless” cups of strong Lavazza coffee.
We started the meal by sharing a thick, moist slice of freshly baked banana bread, topped with banana slices. It was accompanied by whipped cinnamon cream cheese, which was super tasty but also very sweet. I really liked that the cream cheese came on the side so we could take as little or as much as we wanted, though I wish it had been featured more creatively and appetizingly on the plate rather than smushed into a little plastic cup. Of course, I’m just nitpicking here. The banana bread, more than sizable enough for all of us to sample a piece, tasted heavenly: a hint of sugar, an overload of crunchy walnuts, ripe bananas. I’d eat this for breakfast every day if I could, little plastic cup or not.
Todd’s parents both decided to eat omelets, which came with home fries and toast. Our server was very attentive and sent Rachel’s food back to the kitchen when it didn’t come out as well done as she’d asked for. The omelets were each made with three eggs, and fillings ranged from standard onions and peppers to corned beef hash or chicken apple sausage. Though their meals were tasty, Todd’s parents expressed a desire to try something more adventurous next time.
I chose the Project B.E.C. Think runny egg yolks, thick slices of cheese, crispy bacon—all on a bacon-chive waffle. If you’re thinking that sounds like the ideal balance of protein, carbs, and flat-out yumminess… you’re absolutely right. The eggs were cooked just the right amount, the bacon wasn’t too greasy or too burnt, the waffle was fluffy and warm. (Full disclosure: I did remove three of the six slices of cheese because it just seemed like too much cheese, even for me.) This luscious creation is definitely big enough to share, though I’m not sure you’ll want to. It came with home fries, but disappointingly they weren’t anything to write home about. Mine were soggy and a little cold, and I really thought they could have used a lot more seasoning; I’d recommend more salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and maybe even a dash of chili powder for a little heat. Luckily the sandwich was outstanding enough to completely make up for it.
That brings me to Todd, who ordered the most adventurous meal of all: the breakfast burrito bowl. A warm soft tortilla cradled a hearty blend of pulled pork with “secret seasoning,” caramelized onions, queso fresco, avocado, grilled tomatoes, sriracha sour cream, and a scrambled cheddar cheese omelet. Though I’d feared that the dish might be too spicy or oily for a morning meal, I was happily proved wrong as I stole bite after bite of Todd’s juicy pork. The ingredients’ bold flavors really mixed together well and left Todd feeling more than satisfied.
I highly recommend Project Brunch. As for me, I’m already trying to plan a return visit so I can delve into the sweeter side of the menu. (S’mores waffle, I hear your call…)