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Lucy + Henry's doggie brunch date at Vero

*NOTE: This restaurant has since closed.*
  • Restaurant  Vero
  • Cuisine  American, wine bar
  • Location  1004 2nd Avenue (at 53rd Street), Manhattan
  • Phone  212-935-3530
  • Directions  Hopstop
  • Atmosphere  indoor/outdoor seating, dim, casual
  • Attire  asual
  • Ideal for  small group dining, 1x1
  • Price  affordable - moderate

You know, I'm still getting used to this whole 'having a dog' thing.  Especially when it comes to dining out with Lucy in tow...

As packed as my work and social schedule may be, I try to include Miss Lucy (my 4.5 lb. Maltese puppy) in as many of my outings as possible.  While she can't exactly tag along to the office or the gym, I'm always in search of restaurants and bars that are "dog friendly."  But, even in a city that's as pet-forward as NYC, you'd be surprised by how many establishments - *with* outdoor dining space, mind you - do not allow dogs and/or make it nearly impossible to have your pooch in tow.  Take, for example, last Sunday, when I was trying to find a spot for an impromptu brunch with my girlfriends.  Of course, there was the option to not include Lucy and Henry (Nicole's puppy) in our plans, but we wanted them around; plus, they had not yet met!  Once that detail was decided upon, it was time to find a restaurant.  With outdoor dining.  That was dog-friendly.  Trust me, folks, it's a lot harder than it sounds...

You'd think that an amazing resource like Menupages would have a search filter, you know, among random crap like "fireplace" and "raw bar," for something as important as "dog friendly."  Nope, they don't.  And, if you do a quick Google search for "dog friendly dining nyc," not too many familiar sites are returned.  So, just as I did in the pre-Menupages days, I got on the phone:  "Hi, I see that you have outdoor dining.  Do you allow leashed dogs on your patio?"  Of the five restaurants I called, three were quick to say "no."  That left us with the choice of either Dos Caminos or La MangeoireWhat?  Nicole lives in Midtown East.  We chose the latter.

Nicole and I, plus our dogs, were the first to arrive.  I handed over Lucy's leash and told her to watch the dogs while I inquired about a table.  "Sorry ma'am, nothing will be available for about 45-minutes," the snobby host said, as he simultaneously looked me up and down.  When I pointed to an empty two-top, suggesting that we could just pull up another chair for our third, he rolled his eyes, told me to hold on a sec, and ran over to ask his manager if that would be OK.  "No!  No ma'am.  Zat weel not wek.  Too small," barked the manager, in his strong French accent.  So, there we were, stranded on the corner of 2nd Avenue.  Famished.  Without a plan or destination. 

By the time Elena arrived, Nicole and I had already begun strategizing.  "I mean, we could walk over to Dos Caminos," she said.  "But what about this place?"  We were the first three customers to arrive at Vero on Sunday, around 12:15pm.  The hostess/server told us that we could sit wherever we'd like outdoors, and that the dogs were fine so long as they were on the outside of the fenced-in dining patio.  We chose a four-top that was further east of 2nd Avenue, so that the pups would not be in the midst of heavy foot traffic and congestion. 

I'm not gonna' lie:  Upon first impression, Vero just seemed like another yuppy, Preppie Killer-type of neighborhood bar.  That just so happened to serve food.  And brunch!  To be 100% honest, I was pretty frightened about the outcome of the meal.  I mean, what if it was the type of place where the chef cooked and smoked at the same time?  Would I catch some horrific bout of food poisoning?  Would there be a pube in my scrambled eggs?  OK, I'm being *really* dramatic, but I just wasn't thrilled about brunching here.  And, ya, I am a food snob.  So shut up.

My fears were slowly put to ease from the moment that I received my perfectly-executed margarita.  While perusing the surprisingly intriguing brunch offerings on Vero's menu. 

Chock-full of tart, fresh lime juice and rimmed with enough salt to cure a pork shoulder (just how I like it!), my cocktail was neither too potent or too sweet. 

Funny enough, the brunch entree that all three of us ordered was the Lobster Benedict.   

Served atop a long, rectangular plate were two lightly toasted English muffin halves, stacked with fresh, ripe slices of avocado - ample pieces of lobster claw meat - and a perfectly-poached egg crowned with a thin Hollandaise sauce.  Separating the two English muffin halves was a portion of chunky, lightly smashed breakfast potato "casserole." 

As if the sight of this dish, alone, weren't sexy enough, it tasted just as appealing.  First of all, I appreciated the fact that the English muffin halves weren't toasted to an annoying, un-cuttable crisp.  The avocado slices were at their peak of ripeness, evoking the most creamy, buttery texture and delicate flavor.  The lobster meat, combined with the poached egg and Hollandaise sauce, was quite the flavor trinity.  So rich and luxurious.  Sophisticated, yet so fresh and summery.  And, truth be told, I loved the potato casserole *almost* as much as the Benedict! 

From the dog-friendly environment and the affordability of the food/drink, to the friendly service and surprisingly tasty offerings, I was really pleased with my experience at Vero.  Now, would I go out of my way, from my hood in/around Chelsea, for a meal there?  No.  But if I were in the area again - with or without Lucy - I would certainly consider Vero for a yummy brunch.  And margarita(s)!

A big "thank you" to the staff for not being a-holes to my friends and our dogs.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

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