Michelle and Malia Obama had lunch at Community Food & Juice recently, and that was big news to certain people, most of which seemed to be of the opinion that this restaurant across from Columbia University is going to "totally blow up now." Those people have clearly never been to Community Food & Juice on a Saturday around noon. The lines for brunch at this place are already so long that they should probably put a security detail at the host stand, regardless of whether presidential offspring is in the house. Tell this devoted clientele that there's an hour between them and gluten free biscuits, and things can get tense.
As we mentioned in our guide to Where To Eat Around Columbia University, one might think from the crowds that Community Food & Juice is the only viable brunch spot anywhere near campus. It isn't, though it is definitely one of the better places to eat around here. Brought to you by the husband and wife proprietors of Clinton Street Baking Co., this restaurant does morning food very well, and they do it with a healthy slant that make it a far better option than whatever diner you were considering eating in as an alternative. Our only problem with it comes down to consistency, which brings us to our recommendation.
If you want to have a really good meal at Community, avoid it during prime time all together. That means don't go for brunch, and yes we know that means you can't have the eggs benedict that you like so much. But there are better things to eat on this menu anyway, and they are all available during weekday breakfast, along with a $12 blueberry pancake special that is 100% worth that amount of money. Lunch is also a good time to hit it, especially if you've got some time to linger, and we like Community for dinner too.
Ultimately, this restaurant's problem is that it just isn't at it's best when it's operating at full tilt. The food suffers from the pressure on the kitchen to keep up, as does the service, both of which are otherwise excellent. If you must go for brunch, go at it alone. You can generally walk right in and sit at the bar and eat your food in peace, or maybe chat up some Columbia dad who is in town visiting his kid. Just don't be surprised if he has a security detail of his own.
So the Clinton Street Baking Co. people make good pancakes? You don't say. These are good and you want some.
An excellent plate of breakfast, including Community's famous whole wheat biscuit, some eggs, maple sugar cured ham, and carrot hash browns. Pro Tip: Ask your server to bring over some of Community's home made hot sauce and make it rain green tangy heaven.
A big heap of Mexican goodness on a homemade tortilla. We've yet to meet a huevos rancheros we don't like, and this one is especially good with the optional turkey chorizo on top.
Warm lentils, fresh greens, and some crème fraiche that makes the dish. A must order.
A very respectable veggie burger that owes a lot to the spicy tomato jam on top. If you're the type that orders veggie burgers, go on ahead with this one.
What health conscious, responsible restaurant wouldn't have a rice bowl on the menu? Feeding people clean food is what it's all about. Oh, that, and margins. These are definitely good, but $17 for some salmon, some sprouts, some rice, and some peanuts? Maybe go with the chicken.
Speaking of chicken, this boneless chicken with sage is a solid order at dinner. They can even do it gluten free, if that's your thing, which it probably is.