My wife and I recently attended the Derby Day festivities at Eleven Madison Park. The fact that those guys really know how to throw a party coupled with the fact that the event was sponsored by Maker's Mark—one of my favorite spirits—meant that neither one of us was looking or feeling our best on Saturday morning. We'd already decided that Saturday would be a walking-around-the-neighborhood-with-the-dogs day come hell or high hangover, so we did what any good dog-owning couple should do: dragged the pups to the closest dog-friendly brunch establishment with outdoor seating for some necessary revitalization.
I've written about Chez Lucienne in the past. They serve an excellent burger—the best in the neighborhood—and have been serving good food at a decent price with outdoor seating long before the more recent gentrification of the blocks around 125th and Lenox. Warm lazy Saturdays and Sundays are the finest time to go, when the quality of the brunch offerings are matched only by the quality of the people-watching on what I believe to be one of the most interesting intersections in the city.
Within the span of half an hour or so we saw: hordes of classy older ladies dressed up in their Sunday best heading home from church; the world's largest panhandler who very courteously advised our neighbor not to leave her purse hanging over the back of her chair towards the sidewalk; Marcus Samuelsson in a dapper cap and multi-colored vest shooting a video outside of Red Rooster next door; A man on a bicycle towing a loudspeaker blasting soul and R&B to the streets; lots and lots and lots of French tourists (who knew that Harlem is prime stomping grounds for the French?), and, well more things that I surely would have remembered had I not been so focused on my sausages.
The sausages at Chez Lucienne—there are five varieties—are all house-made, and quite excellent. For $12.95, you get your choice of a pair of fat, crisp boudin blanc, chicken sausages flavored with truffles, duck sausages with cognac, or a trio of spicy, boldly seasoned Merguez-style lamb sausages.
Crisp and juicy, they were exactly what I was looking for Saturday morning (and exactly what Hambone and Yuba were eyeing as they waited patiently by the tableside). Add to that a mountain of sauteed mushrooms, a gargantuan pile of moist, tender scrambled eggs (it had to be at least a half dozen eggs), and a wedge of one of the finest crisp-on-the-outside, fluffy-in-the-middle garlicky potato cakes you'll ever taste, and I do believe you've got yourself the makings of a good Sunday.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.