Serving Fish

Swimming in Seafood at Peska's Brunch

Start Sunday with a little love from Poseidon—and chef Omar Pereney.

By Alice Levitt June 3, 2016

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A boatload of seafood awaits at the ceviche station.

Image: Alice Levitt

Unless it's a bagel and lox, fish isn't on many Americans' breakfast menus. But could it someday fall in the same so-inappropriate-we-love-it category as early morning cold pizza? If Omar Pereney's brunch at Peska Seafood Culture takes off, it's possible. I don't typically eat breakfast, but brunch? That's another matter entirely.

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Starting off simple with fish empanadas.

Image: Alice Levitt

At 11 a.m. last Sunday, I was primed for the $46 all-you-can-eat feast of far more than seven fishes. I shy from calling it a buffet. While most of the offerings are served on a circuit of tables placed around the restaurant and outside, servers and chefs fill your plate for you. Other dishes are brought straight from kitchen to table.

By default, all meals begin with tiny cups of shrimp soup and exceptionally flaky fish empanadas served with chimichurri and green apple aioli. Diners can order as much as they want of the others: American basics such as pancakes and eggs Benedict, but also Pereney's creations including a spinach-and-Parmesan omelet in smoked tomato sauce.

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It's not fish, but you still need to eat it.

Image: Alice Levitt

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Tostada caramelo

Image: Alice Levitt

Spanish huevos rotos—a skillet filled with fried eggs and jamon Iberico served over potatoes and chorizo—was a pleasure, but the surprise hit was French toast. It's rare to find an iteration so custardy-gooey on the inside but that stands at stiff attention as if it were attending West Point. Fresh berries and herbs mitigated the richness of the bread and the sticky-sweet homemade jam.

At the ceviche station, Pereney was preparing the chopped fish dishes, but also tostadas. He recommended his signature Caramelo, a crunchy, powerfully corn-flavored tortilla drizzled with spicy aioli and topped with minced yellowfin tuna dressed in ponzu sauce and topped with sweet caramelized onions and fried shallots.

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Not everything at Peska comes from the water.

Image: Alice Levitt

Outside, cooks labored over paella pans, squid ink pasta dotted with clams and octopus and cochinita pibil. The latter, fish-free dish stood out for its lightly crisped pig flesh saturated with annato and orange, made even lovelier served in a toothsome tortilla with creamy black beans, pickled onions and microgreens.

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A small corner of the dessert table.

Image: Alice Levitt

While bossa nova band Lois & Charlie tore into a cover of "Karma Chameleon," my server filled my plate with all the sweets I desired. That included flower-laden flan dripping with deep caramel flavor and a light, zippy layer cake filled with berry jam. But I couldn't manage more than a bite or two of anything but the chocolate-covered strawberries, irresistible with a jacket of deep, dark chocolate that clung steadfastly to the ripe berries. I had two. And a few more bites of French toast for good measure.

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