Silly Rarebit

Take cues from Brooklyn's best new breakfast spot and make Welsh rarebit

Breakfast fare has always been a big thing in Samantha Safer's life.

"I grew up in Jersey, so breakfast and diner fare . . . two o'clock in the morning, two o'clock in the afternoon, 10 o'clock in the morning. It doesn't matter what time, breakfast is a huge part of New Jersey."

These days, she co-owns Brooklyn's newest breakfast destination, Tilda All Day, a sun-filled sweet cafe/restaurant in Clinton Hill, along with business partner Danny Nusbaum, whose family owns a New York bagel business and who jokes that he grew up in "bagel land."

But their "seven-day-a-week all-day, every-day brunch spot, but without it being brunch," as Safer describes it, serves a menu that's far from diner pancakes and bagels. Rather, chef Claire Welle offers a series of regularly changing relaxed breakfast-leaning plates that can be eaten anytime of day.

There's a slice of brioche tucked under a blanket of melted Emmental cheese, a pile of maitakes and a sunny-side-up egg, and a silken chicken liver mousse that comes with a salad of apples, celery and cashews dusted in vadouvan. An egg sandwich makes an appearance, as does a fried chicken number, served—sans shame—starting bright and early for those days when (ahem) you just need it. And in the New Year, the team will debut a decadent Welsh rarebit (see the recipe), a thick slice of toast topped with melted aged cheddar laced with ale and Worcestershire sauce, and sprinkled with a bright celery-leaf and scallion salad.

The team created the all-day, brunch-leaning menu with their industry friends who rarely see brunch—from outside of the kitchen—in mind. "I don't get to go to brunch. In 10 years, I've been to brunch maybe, like, four times," Safer says. "We wanted to create that space for people who also work in the industry or don't have the weekends off and don't get to enjoy the full experience," she adds.

It also supports Nusbaum's coffee menu, which he created with local third-wave coffee roaster Parlour, and a pastry case that Welle fills with sweets like airy morning buns; cranberry and pine financiers; and semolina, fennel and currant biscotti.

During construction, however, the team started to doubt their plans. "We were getting a little nervous. We didn't see people walking by for weeks. There was nobody around, and we were like, 'Maybe this was a bad idea,'" Safer says. But they have been packed since day one, drawing industry folk, as well as a crowd of freelancers who live nearby.

"It went from being so quiet on this one little stretch, and now it's busy all the time," Safer says. That theme seems to mesh well with the name of the restaurant. Tilda is short for Matilda, the great grandmother of Safer's fiance.

"She was a force in her neighborhood," Nusbaum says. "We found that name fitting."