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March 14th,
written by Arthur


Who doesn’t love brunch?  And here in New York it’s practically an institution.  There is no better way to shake off whatever you got up the night before than a little grease or sweet paired with Bloody Marys or Mimosas.  But, with so  many great places to choose from, it’s a waste of an early afternoon to head back to a place that is OK at best–which is where Sette Park Slope ranks.  There was no single disaster when Meg, Stu, and I made our Saturday afternoon trip to Sette, but we were met with a seemingly constant series of missteps.

The restaurant is, without a doubt, aesthetic. The main dinning room presents an exposed kitchen, thick wood tables, and wine storage on the walls above the kitchen. On arrival,, we chose seating on the enclosed patio and got a table in a corner with a great view of Park Slope’s 7th Avenue and 3rd Street.  After being seated, we got water and some amazing raisin and walnut foccacia bread.

My disappointment with Sette started with our server.  He was a handsome man, with an intriguing accent (when he begrudgingly spoke),  who clearly didn’t want to be there and didn’t seem to care that we knew it.  Now I’ve worked in the service industry (admittedly only for a short time) and I appreciate that being a waiter is hard and often shitty job, but the active disinterest he showed our table was over the top: no  “how are you doing today?” and thinly veiled annoyance when we weren’t ready to order right away – and even annoyance at getting our  first round of all you can drink drinks.  Stu, always friendly, tried to warm things up by asking his name, which he gave half turned around sulking from the table.  Brunch is all about a fun times with friends but the server set the opposite tone, and a good friendly tone could have helped me over look the other problems with Sette’s brunch.

There were three choice for the unlimited drinks: a Bloody Marry, a Mimosa, or a Bellini.   All of which tasted fine, but were definitely on the weak side.

Sette’s brunch offers an antipasti and an entree, in addition to the unlimited drinks and the raisin walnut foccacia bread.  Both Stu and Meg ordered the ricotta fritters with fruit puree which were a complete home run.  Fried and the size of doughnut holes these little gems were moist, not overly sweet, and perfect when dipped into the fruit puree.  I ordered the seasonal melon, balsamic figs, and prosciutto.  I have fond memories of prosciutto melone from a past trip to Italy, so I may have had the bar set a little high, but I was very underwhelmed.  The  long thing slices of cantaloupe were under ripe, hard, and not sweet enough.  The prosciutto was fine.  The main problem came with the balsamic figs.  They were almost rock hard and were drowning in a super sweet syrup (balsamic reduction?) that would have been great on french toast.  The syrup was completely out of place in this plate and it flowed it’s way over to the prosciutto, overwhelming it and the melon with it’s toxin sweetness.

For the entree, Meg and I each ordered the poached eggs “Benedict” on foccacia bread with black forest ham and tomato sabayon (a sabayon is similar to hollandaise sauce, but without the butter–so in this case probably some egg yolks, sugar, and tomato puree).   Stu ordered the egg panini with fennel sausage and fontina cheese, but, being a vegetarian (yes, shock of shocks, I can be friends with a vegetarian), she ordered it with some onions and no sausage.

Stu’s entree was the first to arrive, with the onion, but also with the sausage.  The food runner or whoever it was that brought the entree was great though.   He apologized and took it back to the kitchen to get fixed.  While we were waiting for round 2 on Stu’s meal,  Meg’s entree arrived.  A few minutes later Stu’s panini made a return sans meat.  But I was still waiting on the my eggs Bendict.  So I asked the guy bringing out the food; he seemed confused and went to check with the kitchen.  He came back to the table and said the kitchen had never gotten the ticket, but it was making the dish now and it would be out soon.  A few minutes later, a nice woman, who seemed to be the manager, came over and apologized and assured us the food would be there soon.  After another few minutes, our elusive waiter stopped by to say the same, but started to run off as we were mid-sentence asking for a coffee and booze refill.  Finally, my eggs made it to the table.  Again, this wasn’t any huge disaster (thought I’m not sure how it seemed normal that I was only doing part of the prix fixe), but was just one of many things–especially the server’s attitude–that soured the brunch.

The eggs Benedict was good.  The picture makes it look unappetizing, but it really looked amazing.  The white on the outside of the eggs had a perfect cloud like appearance.  My one criticism would be that there was too much ham.  More precisely, the  ham formed a meaty shield for the bread so that when I cut into the poached egg the wonderful yolk ran over the ham on to the plate and didn’t get much of a chance to sink into the bread.  Also, foccacia bread, because of the the nature of its outside, simply isn’t that absorbent.

We got the bill.  When we left we passed the manager, herself seeming a little stressed. I knew that she knew about at least part of the problems we had.   She asked how everything was.  I just said “fine” and continued out the door.  I know I should have asked for something, a little off the bill etc., but I hate doing that, I feel that when the manager knows about these kinds of issues they should be proactive.

All-in-all I think I might have hit Sette on a bad day.  If I had to guess, here is what was happening: more than one of the waiters called-in or just didn’t show up, our server got a call that dragged him out of bed after a long night out into a crazy understaffed brunch rush.  The manager was struggling herself (she was out re-filling drinks) to keep things going.  But that wouldn’t change the food.  Like the excess ham on the Benedict’s foccacia , Sette is reaching a little too far.  It has some really great thing going for it, but some of the dishes are just over the top and should be paired back and simplified for a better result.

There aren’t a huge number of brunch places in the Slope, but there is no reason to risk a mediocre C+ when there are enough great brunches to be found (especially considering the endless number in the city).



  1. Loren

    It’s funny how being in a bad mood (or hungover) as a server is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’re in a bad mood, so you don’t treat your tables as you normally would, so you get bad tips, which makes you in a worse mood, and on and on it goes.
    Also, my first thought when I saw the eggs benedict was “that looks like way too much ham”. I’ve always had trouble with ordering that dish, usually the hollandaise is greasy or the egg isn’t done right, or the english muffin is so tough that you need a saw blade to cut it apart. The only one I consistently love is at Grandview.

  2. […] week, I wrote a post about my brunch experience at Sette and I can’t help but compare.  The Perch brunch was filled with pandemonium, but the […]

  3. Arthur

    So true on mood.

    Two weeks ago, Meg spearheaded doing some homemade benedict. This last weekend I gave it another go. It turned out really well. A post on the DIY benedict coming up next in the brunch series.

  4. Stuart

    RE: “Stu ordered the egg panini with fennel sausage and fontina cheese, but, being a vegetarian (yes, shock of shocks, I can be friends with a vegetarian), she ordered it with some onions and no sausage.” I object to their being a female vegetarian version of me out there. Please inform her that she has two choices:
    First, get a sex change and start eating meat. This is the preferred route.
    Second, change her name to stop besmirching the manly meat-eating goodness that exudes from those three magic letters.

  5. […] last time I had a bad waiter experience was months ago at Sette.  And that was a totally different experience.  At Sette my waiter was probably  having a […]

  6. […] seen it before.  As I scanned I realized that the menu was the same as Sette’s.  The same Sette at which I had a uniquely disappointing brunch experience several months ago.  Some internet researching revealed that this is in fact a reincarnation of the now closed […]

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