Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had a great night and first day of the year and that your revelry continues through 2012!

I rang in the New Year, and a friend’s birthday, at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, N.Y. There was a whole lot of hiking, ice skating and eating going down at the 143-year-old palatial manor and grounds. Quite a treat! Happy birthday again to my bestie, Raquel!

After much consternation, I decided there is no better way to start off my seventh year of writing for the Amsterdam News than with a great meal at a New York City institution with good foodie friends…and a cute Irish bartender, too! (That last note is, of course, relative to personal taste, but he made the experience fun.)

I am talking about the never-changing, classic Minetta Tavern (113 MacDougal St., (212) 475-3850, www.minettatavernny.com). The famous celebrity clientele and select decadent dishes precede its name always: “I need the bone marrow at…” or “Leo DiCaprio was spotted at…”

All of the brouhaha over Minetta Tavern meant a reservation had to be made for Sunday brunch for our petite trio. Jason was on it, and Dee and I rendezvoused with him at 125th Street station for the five-stop, A-train pilgrimage to culinary heaven!

Our on-time arrival, however, did not mean immediate seating. We were to wait for some room to open and enjoy a leisurely brunch cocktail from their creative “Blooody Marys” menu. Jason tried the Green Mary made with green tomatoes and southwestern spices. I stuck with the traditional, though I should have struck out with the Surf & Turf Mary with oxtail broth or the Oyster Mary with oysters. Next time.

Some space opened at the bar and that personable Irish bartender, Mark, invited us over to eat. Yes! Mark answered any questions we had about the menu, and just as we were about to order devastating news came out of the kitchen: “86 Black Label Burger!” Devastating because the $26 blend of Pat LaFrieda meats was the sole reason burger-lover Jason came to Minetta Tavern. He and Dee rolled with it and got the Minetta Burger ($17) instead.

We started with roast baby beets with leeks, walnuts and chevre ($18) and a side of fried tomatoes ($9). The beets were a clean way to start the meal-simple, not over done. The tomatoes should be served only with a traditional English breakfast fry, as their preparation didn’t offer anything dynamic on its own.

While the boys got their beef on and really enjoyed it, I ordered the Petit Sale de Morue. It is milk-poached salt cod served with a poached egg, crispy pancetta and steamed green and purple potatoes all nestled in beurre fondu.

I was a little nervous that I wasn’t in on the burger bash, but after the first bite of my cod, I felt like it was just me and the plate having an intimate slow dance where you don’t notice that the music has ended, the lights are up and the janitor is cleaning around you. Our encounter ended when there was nothing left but streaks of that beurre fondu and runny egg yolk. I will be back for that dish!

We weren’t ready to leave without having dessert and coffee. We chose pots de creme and coconut cake. I really enjoyed the former, a trilogy of chocolate, vanilla and coffee served with a flaky biscuit, while the cake was moist and fluffy.

We stayed until the bitter end of brunch and into Minetta Tavern’s prep for dinner. Perhaps if we had a reservation, we would have stayed for the bone marrow…ah, bone marrow.

Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!

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Kysha Harris is owner of SCHOP! which is available for weekly service or for home entertaining. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Email kysha@iSCHOP.com.