When New York is on a storm alert, and you wake up at four excited to see it... a great day has to start with a hefty breakfast. Walking the empty streets of this marvelous city before anyone even woke up, I arrived at Freehand, a trendy hotel near Madison square park. A big red sign, funny designs on the glass, push the door and discover a classy design inspired by forests of the Amazon. I felt some positive vibes and knew it’s going to be a pleasant experience.
I was happy the minute I walked in; green lights, leather, and wood, freshness from the tropics with dimmed lights and soothing music tunes. Sometimes simple designs impress more than complicated expensive creations.
Located in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, Freehand New York is housed in the former George Washington Hotel—once home to many storied writers, musicians, and creatives. Designed by Roman and Williams and featuring custom-commissioned artwork by Bard College students and alumni throughout, Freehand is revitalizing the artistic community in a historic NY neighborhood.
The second-floor Studio is drenched in sun by day and lit by the streets at night. In the morning, Baker Zoe Kanan presents fresh baked sweet and savory pastries alongside a healthy-ish breakfast spread. A full menu, tinged with flavors of North Africa and the Near East, is served from early afternoon until late night. Gabriel Stulman’s Happy Cooking Hospitality is behind the warm, neighborhood vibes.
The owner seems to have oriental origins because the menu proposes Halawa, Labneh, Hummus, and Shakshuka among others. Hummus and eggs is a premiere for me, I expected bagel and Labneh to be a nice combination, and the avocado toast comes with garlic chips.
Hummus and eggs and it works! Smooth very creamy, light-bodied hummus served in a bowl with a sunny-side-up egg in the middle and decorated with crunchy beans. The plate is seasoned with spices and served with chewy flatbread on the side. I loved it; I adored it, my heart skipped a beat. I’ve never imagined eating hummus with eggs to start with, loved the combination between the smooth, warm hummus and the crunchy hard textured beans; the egg comes for finesse and style as the addition of perfection. This is gourmet, upscale and innovative; this is the work of a master.
Avocado toast left aside and considered as a side! Blasphemy! This is one of the best avocado toasts I’ve ever tasted in my entire life! A tender, yet toasted and condensed bread, made with black tahini topped with a mash of ripe avocado and seasoned with intensely spicy peppers. I was left amazed! One bite, another, a third until the whole sandwich disappeared!
And I was not even done yet! It’s a bun looking like a cinnamon roll but is, in fact, light and flaky made of chocolate and sugar bits. Half croissant, half roll or probably a bread bun, this creation makes one dream.
Labneh and a bagel, jam, and toast; “wow!!! C’est Bon”, I screamed again and again!l
I don’t like muesli, and I don’t feel like eating quinoa at breakfast, but this is so different! Oat, pomegranate and dried apricot with an aromatic and sweet flavor that’s addictive.
Perfect, simply perfect, the best of the best, the simplest yet most innovative and unconventional breakfast! OMG! I’m enchanted!