The words “vegan” and “brunch” don’t necessarily feel right together. This is a meal for hangover-healing, restriction-lifting, omelet-eating, and laughing with an old friend over a wall of beverages, right? It’s possible to enjoy this midday meal without bacon and breakfast sausage, but really, people, what is brunch without butter and eggs? The cleverly titled Smith Street pop-up, Sans (that is, sans animal products), answers that question with big flavors and satisfying plates. Our vegan friends already knew this was possible, but for the vegetarians and carnivores among us, Sans is full of pleasant surprises. Here’s our omnivore’s guide to the plant-based brunch at Sans:
1. Order all the beverages.
Veganism cannot get between you and the holy trilogy of brunch drinks, which includes coffee, water, and something sparkling and lightly alcoholic. For the latter, we’d recommend “An Imagination,” the Sans take on a Moscow Mule ($10). This elegant combination of citrusy lime vodka, spicy cold-pressed ginger, and softly floral rose water, is served over a giant ice cube in a copper mug. Sprinkled with potpurri-like flower petals, it’s a very pleasant way to start the day.
2. Drop your brunch preconceptions.
With bacon and eggs out of the way, brunch can get a little more adventurous. On a chilly morning, a big, steamy bowl of pho offered us a generous helping of comforting rice noodles, umami-rich mushrooms and sprightly cilantro in a dark, deeply flavorful broth, redolent of ginger, garlic and anise ($14). We also loved the trio of tacos with doubled-up corn tortillas to hug hearty chunks of avocado tempura, peppery radishes, crispy frizzled onions, pickled shallots, fresh cilantro, and creamy vegan mayo ($11). These dishes could light up the table at any brunch spot, plant-powered or not.
However, if you enjoy plant-based foods that imitate non-vegan favorites, you may opt for the avocado Benedict ($14). We had the only table in the restaurant that wasn’t graced with one (or two!) plates of these English muffins topped with thick rounds of avocado and something orb-like (a halved tomato, perhaps?) drenched in vegan hollandaise. We watched curiously as clean plates were sent back to the kitchen. Although I’ve always considered myself too much of an egg-lover to appreciate any substitution, I’m thinking about trying this on my next Sans visit.
3. Definitely get the granola
Chef Champ Jones once worked in the kitchen at Eleven Madison Park, where every guest is sent home with a jar of granola to enjoy for breakfast the following morning. And it’s not just any old granola. It’s pretty much the Granola of the Gods, and Jones has brought a fine version of it to Sans. Here, corriander and black pepper bring a savory edge to the sweet, crunchy treat, which is studded with golden raisins and served alongside a smear of creamy coconut yogurt, which holds a little pool of caramel “honey” ($9). After we finished the last crumb, my vegetarian dining companion seemed like he wanted to lick the bowl, and I would’ve applauded him if he did.
4. Don’t splurge on the burger
It’s just hard to get down with a small-ish $19 veggie burger. The Sans version is a tasty little guy, with cheese sauce and pickled onions, but the more memorable part of the dish was the pile of fried potatoes served on the side. The large slices of potato were lightly crushed, creamy within, perfectly salted, and crunchy on the outside. If you’re rolling in with a big appetite, we’d highly recommend getting these potatoes on the side ($7) to fill out any order.
5. Don’t delay!
Sans bills itself as a “long-term pop-up.” The restaurant was opened in September of 2018 with the plan to stay in business for a year. So whether you’re a vegan in search of a plant-based brunch spot that all your omnivorous friends can enjoy or just a curious carnivore with a love of granola and morning cocktails, you’ve got about 6 months left to get your plant-based brunch fix.
Sans, 329 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11231