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Circuit Court New York

Le Gamin
183 9th Avenue/21st St.
New York, NY
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When I got up this beautiful Sunday morning, I fancied something a little fancy. Maybe because I drank a daiquiri last night. Or maybe it was the entire week watching U.S Open golf instead of the World Cup. It was a perfect day for Le Gamin.

Sunday brunch is serious business here in the city of eats. Doesn't matter if it's 9 a.m. or 4 p.m., all the f¸d joints are filled with folks armed with the Sunday Times, a New Yorker, and a cell phone. Le Gamin, near the gallery district in Chelsea, is one of the prime places to witness this phenomenon. Here's a snippet of overheard brunch conversation:

Bruncher 1: Hey, you know that scientists are genetically altering lambs to produce spider silk?

Bruncher 2: Yeah, I'm reading the Times article right now. I don't get how spider silk is stronger than steel though. Do you?

Bruncher 1: Oh, I don't know. I just read the first paragraph of every article so I can tell people about them and look reasonably interested in things.

Bruncher 2: Funny. I'm doing the same thing! Wanna date me?

Le Gamin has been a neighborhood hangout for many years, and is authentically French (I hear it's family-owned and run). They offer a delightful array of fresh crepes, sandwiches, and omelettes, in an atmosphere filled with dark woods, French street signs and hipster regulars. On Sundays it's especially packed, so expect to stand around for 15 minutes or so before you're seated.

I ordered a chicken ratatouille crepe and an Orangina. And after an inordinately long wait, my meal actually arrived. Uniquely, the crepes here at Le Gamin have a different texture than at other places in the city. They are a little more wheat-y than creamy, and are slightly more chewy than "melt-in-your-mouth." I like that -- made it feel like a meal despite the size. More on that later... The ratatouille tasted less like a "sauce" than a combination of great stuff -- the vegetables inside are all incredibly fresh and distinct in flavor, as were the pieces of grilled chicken.

All that nice stuff aside, I felt a little light on the bench afterwards, as the crepe was pretty small, and came accompanied by a few dressed-up leaves and tomatoes on the side. And at nearly $8, I was a little disappointed.

In past visits, I've had both sandwiches and omelettes, and have fared better (a Croque Monsieur that was deliciously grilled and very filling), and worse (a wild mushroom omelette that was a little on the dry and bland side). So, your mileage may vary.

If you ask me, the real heart of Le Gamin is their "Crepes Sucre," or dessert crepe selection. You can't go wrong with their chocolate, chocolate & banana, strawberry sauce, or fresh fruit crepes. I've been here many times and haven't picked a lemon yet. And for the extra $4 or $5 on top of your entrée, you'd actually have yourself a meal.

Really, I like the place. The füd is unquestionably good. I just don't care much for the crowd or the prices. If you can get past that, or if you at least want to amuse yourself and take in a bit of a true New York neighborhood experience, I suggest you put on a dirty, vintage, ill-fitting shirt and join in on the fun.



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