New York, NY—There is something to be said about the ambiance Upper East Side restaurants are conveying as their patrons indulge in timeless, cherished dishes. In the current reality, it is hard to find a happy medium between the constant rhythm of honking, squeaky engines, and ambulances that make up the symphony of the city.
In search of this happy medium, local French Bistro—AOC East—located at 1590 First Avenue has always provided an unmatched ambiance to its many patrons via their decadent flavors, an expansive wine list, and exposed brick. Pre- COVID I had celebrated signing my lease with a bottle of Red paired with escargot and fresh bread.
On a crisp Sunday morning, I found myself on First Avenue, and immediately pulled into the warmth radiating from string lights and soft 90’s French rock. “Enchanté,” I said to my coffee. Despite the relative priciness of brunch in the Upper East Side, I was delighted to find a robust brunch menu ranging between $10-16, which accommodates any palate or dietary restriction. A mimosa was fairly priced at $6, a steal in the area, followed by a $10 Bloody Mary.
Normally, I would find myself ordering the French toast, or Norwegian Eggs with House Cured Salmon on an English Muffin, however, trying to stay on the light side, opted for an omelet of which I was allowed 3 additions- I chose goat cheese, mushrooms, and bacon. However, remembering that AOC French fries are perhaps the best in the area, (thin and crunchy) I substituted their home frites with pommes frites.
The meal arrived quickly, within a few minutes, sans ketchup, but perhaps they noted my light meal choice. The presentation was immaculate, the flavor pairing was perfect, and the omelet itself fluffy and airy.
As someone who enjoys dining alone, I appreciated the staffs very French approach; attentive when needed, but not overtly so. The things I did note however was the absence of half-and-half, but then again, my choice in milk would be regarded as a travesty in France.
Overall, my experience at AOC would be a 4/5. As always, the food was immaculate. Despite the location being on a major avenue, the ambiance proved to be a very peaceful Sunday brunch experience and I would recommend anyone looking for a peaceful, refreshing breakfast to say “Bonjour” to AOC East.