Next time you claim to love a food, consider how your passion pales in comparison to that of Egg Shop founders Sarah Schneider and Demetri Makoulis.
This pair of self-professed “eggheads” has founded a late-night eatery devoted entirely to eggs. Located in the heart of NoLIta, Egg Shop opened in late August and satisfies egg cravings day and night, from 8 a.m. until midnight on weekdays, and until 1 a.m. on weekends.
Whether or not the sun is up, Egg Shop is cheery and bright enough to instantly trick the mind into wanting breakfast. Almost everything about the décor has the smooth, clean quality of an uncracked egg, from the bright white dinnerware and exposed white light bulbs to the humorously egg-shaped salt and pepper shakers. Potted plants and eggshell blue accents on the counters and furniture add a touch of color, while a large dilapidated mirror on the wall and grade-school wooden chairs evoke a slightly retro vibe.
Egg Shop's atmosphere is casual and upbeat. Because it incorporates a diner, a bar, and an open kitchen in a space about half the size of Lerner Hall's lobby, my companion and I noted that it was fairly loud, even though it was 10 p.m. and only half the tables were occupied.
Egg Shop offers a variety of egg sandwiches ranging from $9 to $15, as well as a custom sandwich section for those who know exactly what they want. Also on the menu is a list of 8-dollar “cruisers” served in bowls, including eggs benedict drizzled in lemon citronette, and French toast topped with berries, syrup, and chocolate cream.
To start off, we shared a side of hash browns. Crisp and brown and sprinkled with large flakes of coarse sea salt, these were crunchy and brittle on the outside and deliciously moist and peppery on the inside. We were surprised at how spicy they tasted - before we figured out that the ketchup we had been dipping them into was laced with Tabasco. Once the mystery was solved, we heartily agreed that this was the perfect choice of condiment, the spicy kick enhancing the contrasting textures in the hash browns.
For a main course, I ordered a cruiser called the El Camino. It arrived on my table ready for its Instagram photo shoot: pieces of evenly sliced avocado, fried tortilla, tomatoes, and cilantro were perfectly arranged around a single, angelic poached egg sitting in the center of a round, white bowl. #foodie, #healthyeating, it urged. I resisted.
Flavor-wise, the highlight of the El Camino dish was the layer of carnitas sitting at the bottom, sauced with more spicy ketchup. As my fork broke through the poached egg, golden yolk spilled over the carnitas to create a rich, goopy mix of meat, spice, and heavenly yolkiness. My only complaint was that I only had one egg, which didn't provide enough yolk to coat every inch of the carnitas.
My companion ordered a sandwich called the Reformer, made with multigrain bread and featuring egg whites, feta, spinach, and tomato. The bread was sprinkled with coarse salt and grilled to perfection. Despite his troubles with keeping the sandwich intact with every bite, my companion commented that every ingredient tasted satisfyingly flavorful and fresh.
As my high school college admissions officer once explained to me, it pays off to specialize rather than to be an all-rounder. My memorable experience at Egg Shop exemplifies the virtues of specialization. Along with chef Nick Korbee, Schneider and Makoulis seem to have found a way to do anything with an egg. With an eye to creating an original menu rather than rehashing old classics, it's clear that the creators of Egg Shop possess both culinary creativity and business savvy.
Egg Shop is located at 151 Elizabeth St. in NoLIta.