The line, somewhat unexpectedly, ran down West 118th Street. It was ‘round midnight at Minton’s, where icons like Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk entertained the slick and in-the-know from 1938 into the ’60s. A fire in the building closed the club in the early ’70s. Its most recent resurrection in 2013 by Richard Parsons, former chairman and CEO of Time Warner, and chef-restaurateur Alexander Smalls draws nonstop crowds for its acclaimed musicians and the kitchen it shares with one of the city’s hottest dining destinations: The Cecil, but never in the after-hours tradition. Until now.
The lure? Breakfast. Of the ham-and-sunnyside-up-egg-with-fig-jelly-on-a-biscuit variety. In other words: carbohydrate and nostalgia-rich, American-style comfort.
“If you think about the best breakfast you ever had it was probably a holiday, event, or pancakes-every-morning vacation,” said Nicole Avena, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Mount Sinai who studies the psychology of how food affects the brain. “It resonates. You build an association, the pleasure of the experience. You want to engage in that again.”
The breakfast-anytime-of-day craving is largely subconscious, just like the related gravitation to carbs. A benefit of which is a short-term surge of energy (thank you, sugar). Of course that leads to a crash, which can lead to a cycle of overeating, but this is a happy story. “It’s not harmful to substitute a [non-breakfast-time] meal for breakfast,” said Dr. Avenea. In fact, she and her husband recently enjoyed breakfast for dinner.
Down in Tribeca, Bubby’s has served midnight brunch since 2009. That’s 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Thursdays to Saturdays, and there’s always a buzzing, mellow scene. Chef-owner Ron Silver occasionally stops by at 3 or 4 a.m. “It reminds me of some arty after-place,” he said. “A low-key hangout for the late-night industries, restaurants, Broadway, big guys in hip-hop.”
Mr. Silver expects the restaurant’s High Line location to offer the same in the coming months, until 2 a.m. “It’s a very American thing, this kind of breakfast,” he said, referring to satisfying plates of eggs and meat and home fries. “It’s literally built into the landscape, the way America was settled and built. Up-and-at-‘em. That’s what breakfast is.” (See: surge of energy, above).