Freeman’s is not the easiest place in the world to find. One brisk Sunday morning, my friends and I were on the hunt for brunch like most others in the city. Granted, we started our journey around 2 in the afternoon. After trying unsuccessfully to get into Clinton St. Baking Company, we walked over to Freeman’s, or at least the address I found on Yelp for Freeman’s. That led us a pretty much unmarked building with blacked out windows. My first thought was that the restaurant had closed and I just didn’t get the memo. I called their number, just to double-check before looking for another spot, and got an automated message that said they were open and explained the location in a much more helpful way–“Off Rivington between the Bowery and Chrystie. At the end of Freeman Alley.” In other words, even though Freemans address says Chrystie Street, you actually have to enter from an alley off Rivington. We turned the corner, walked down the alley, and saw the restaurant’s inviting entrance with potted plants and lights strung up above the entryway. We did it! We had finally found the cute and tucked-away spot that was Freemans.
The inside of the restaurant looks like a cross between someone’s rustic, country home, with its worn surfaces and large communal tables, and an antique library with taxidermy, ranging from deer to birds, walls lined with old books, and watercolor paintings of wildlife. The website says that the owners wanted to make “a rugged clandestine colonial American tavern.” It’s a larger space than I was expecting, with two floors, and one of the most visually interesting restaurants I’ve eaten at in the city.
The brunch menu is divided between starters, sweet, savory, sides, and desserts. Its all homey American food, so you’ll find things like Devils on Horseback (a dish I just recently learned about–wrapped and stuffed dried fruit like prunes or dates); banana coffee cake; a biscuit sandwich with bacon, fried egg, and cheddar cheese; and a cheeseburger.
I ordered the skillet eggs, which are served with bacon, spinach, grits, cheddar cheese, and a side of buttered sourdough toast. My friends and I also split the lemon-poppy seed pancakes since we were hankering for some after our failed attempt to eat at Clinton St. Baking Co.
The skillet eggs came just like I wanted–super cheesy. It doesn’t look like a super large portion, but man, is it filling with those grits at the bottom and scooping up some of everything with the crusty bread. Oh, and eating some pancakes on top of that sure does fill you up. I’ve had my share of interesting pancake flavors, but this was actually my first time trying lemon-poppy seed and Freemans does it well.
While Freemans is quite popular for brunch, you can also eat here for lunch or dinner. These menus also focus on quality, American fare like the smoked trout, pork belly barbecue sandwich, and venison stew. They also take pride in the innovatie cocktails on their drinks menu like the Navio Sour, which has jasmine rum, turmeric, and honey, and the Freemans Cocktail, which as rye, lemon, pomegranate molasses, and orange bitters.
This is totally one of those restaurants where taking a visitor here will make you look like a pro who knows all the secret spots in the city. Since I got a little lost on the way while leading my friends, the effect wasn’t as dramatic, but now you know the insider’s tip and will be able to lead people to this charming hideaway with ease.
Skillet eggs, bacon, spinach, grits, and cheddar with buttered sourdough toast, lemon-poppy seed buttermlik pancakes
191 Chrystie St
New York, NY 10002