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A Superb Brunch Experience Any Time at Fort Defiance

By Elisha Neubauer

Located comfortably in Red Hook, Brooklyn, Fort Defiance is a restaurant that serves up breakfast, lunch, dinner, weekend brunch, and fabulous cocktails all day long. Owned by writer and bartender St. John Frizell, the space was opened to the public in 2009. With charming large-scale windows, beautifully patterned tables, and classically tasteful wall hangings, spending the afternoon at Fort Defiance seems like a no-brainer.

When it comes to what makes a good brunch, John Frizell claims he is exceptionally picky. "For me, it starts with the service. I want to be greeted warmly at the door and welcomed in, no matter how busy the restaurant is," Frizell explains. "I want great coffee, and a choice of some really good cocktails, including a Bloody Mary with horseradish that's spicy but not too spicy. I want the food to be simple, fresh, and beautiful, but not fancy. For me, I always think about Southern food when I think about brunch- that's why we offer freshly baked biscuits, skillet cornbread, collard greens, Creole red beans, and the like."

Frizell goes on to say that they take extra care with their weekend brunch guests. "Brunch is a time when you really have to remember to care for your guests- some of them may still be recovering from the night before! When you show respect for the guests in your dining room, as well as respect for the ingredients in your kitchen and behind the bar, everyone will leave happy."

As there are many competing eateries serving brunch in the Brooklyn area, so the staff at Fort Defiance takes the mealtime very seriously. "We know that for many of our guests, it's the only time they've eaten out that week, and maybe the only time they've seen friends, or sat down to a meal with their family. So we treat brunch with the respect it deserves, and we don't pull any punches; our coffee, our cocktails, and our food are all first-rate," says Frizell.

Although their most popular dishes are the Charleston (two poached eggs with mustard hollandaise, collard greens, and skillet cornbread) and the All-American (two eggs any style, bacon, hash browns, and toast), Frizell is down-to-earth about what he feels is the biggest lure to visit Fort Defiance for a weekend brunch. "Our drinks are probably the biggest draw," he boasts. "We serve a killer Bloody Mary of course, but also some delicious and unusual cocktails from the past and present- like the Corpse Reviver, an early 20th century eye-opener made with gin and a dash of absinthe, and the Siesta, a contemporary classic made with tequila, fresh grapefruit juice, and campari."

In addition to tailored service, standard favorites, and early morning cocktails, Fort Defiance sources their ingredients from local and responsible places, such as Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op, a nonprofit collective of organic family farms in Pennsylvania, Battenkill Valley Creamery in Salem, NY, and Pino Prime Meats, a hundred-year-old butcher shop in SoHo, right down the street from Grandaisy Bakery, where their bread is baked. With train and bus access, and only a short walk from IKEA and Fairway, there is no excuse not to give your next brunch outing a trial run at Fort Defiance.

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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