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First Look: Brunch at El Cobre

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[Photographs: Maggie Hoffman]

When the people behind a bar as serious as Cienfuegos in the East Village decide to serve brunch, they don't half-ass the drinks. No boring mimosas here: the cocktails included with the $13-15 brunch prix fixe are complex and flavorful additions to your meal. The savory Scarlet Maria features a house-made sangrita with blood orange, pomegranate, and sweet roasted tomatoes blended with ancho chili-infused Scarlet Ibis rum. It's delicately smoky but not too spicy, a bit like a gazpacho, and a perfect complement to El Cobre's egg dishes.

We liked the Correo AĆ©reo even more, though. Honey, sparkling wine, and muddled blackberries bring out the exotic flavor of Cruzan Black Strap rum (which is aged for two years in whiskey and bourbon barrels, picking up notes of aromatic vanilla and spice.) The rum adds body and depth; this is a seriously delicious cocktail, not just some fizzy headache-postponer.

Brunch also comes with tea or a cup of silky-smooth Chemex coffee. Since it's hard to keep drip coffee hot, the steamed milk offered on the side is a nice gesture.

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The dining area was packed at noon on the second Sunday of brunch service, but the food was worth a little wait. The Torrejas (Cuban-style French toast) had an impressive caramelized edge, and rich vanilla flavor, which was further pumped up by nutmeg-spiked whipped cream. The dish was a little on the dry side, but we appreciated that it wasn't excessively heavy.

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20110109elcobretots.jpgThe Chickpea Hash was a comforting melange of soft chickpeas, sofrito, and tender shredded roast pork, with a hint of spice from the chorizo. If you like your eggs on the harder side, be sure to request that; ours arrived quite runny, perfect for yolking up the hash.

If that's not enough chorizo for you, spring for a side of Yucca and Chorizo Tots ($3) which offer a wonderful contrast of creamy filling and crisp exterior. Warning: they may leave you craving another drink. Luckily, you're in the right place to keep on sipping.

El Cobre at Cienfuegos

95 Avenue A, New York NY 10009 (At 6th Street; map)
212-614-6818
cienfuegosny.com

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