On a recent visit to Five Leaves for brunch, I realized why I keep coming back. It’s not the food – it’s good, and at times great, but it’s not the best in the neighborhood – but the experience of being there, carried away by the buzz of the crowd and the smiles around you. You’ll be hard pressed to find a place with a more welcoming atmosphere, where you’re invited to linger even if it’s just over your tap water.
The funny thing is, if you were just strolling by Five Leaves you might just roll your eyes and walk on. The patrons are dripping in hip, and everyone seems to be a regular – not just a weekender, but an I-come-for-breakfast-every-day kind of regular. It’s Raybans and ironic clothes, bros back-slapping and chicks in chambray lounging on their chairs. Exactly the place you’d expect to get upturned noses from a too cool for school wait staff.
Instead, you get a welcoming nod from the maitre d’, whose memory has me convinced he was an elephant in a past lifetime. He never takes down a name, but never skips anyone inadvertently, and he’ll perfectly calculate how long you’ll wait for a seat. I wouldn’t hesitate to call him the resident psychic. Once seated, your server will greet you with the menus and a smile, and it’s only uphill from there.
It’s just so rare to find a place, especially in Brooklyn, where the service shines above and beyond your expectations. Five Leaves hits the mark every time, and despite a few food-related hiccups, they’re at the top of my list of places I’d recommend. Oh, and if you go, get the ricotta with figs – salty, sweet, and creamy, you’ll skip the bread and just spoon it in.
Five Leaves is at 18 Bedford Avenue, just across from McCarren Park. Check out their menu online before you go.