I’m definitely a breakfast person. And when I’m away from home, the idea of that I can eat as soon as I wake – is incredibly exciting! Breakfast in the city was on my going to be on my mind. I always find myself waking up a little earlier than usual when going to the U.S. so a gratuitously big breaky is the perfect way to use your time before the shops open. Whether you want breakfast, brunch or lunch, there’s something for everyone and it’s often hard to make that decision.
Day one it was off to Pershing Square on 42nd Street, a busy yet classy diner opposite Grand Central Station. Basically under the bridge that all the taxis take to get from Lower Manhatten to Bloomingdales. It was everything I wanted on a crisp cold morning. A short wait for a table gave us time to warm up before ordering. I’m a big fan of a cooked breakfast and I’m fascinated about how different countries do it. One of my favourite things to order is steak hash with eggs. Other offerings include every omelette you can think of , the crispiest bacon of all and other classic breakfast dishes. I also love the fact that you can order a sausage as a side order! The
only disappointment is that American diners and restaurants alike serve pale, unsalted butter with the lovely sourdough the give you. I personally would much rather they tried to replicate the salted satisfying character of Kerrygold – But that’s just me. And don’t get me started on how they serve tea – But I know, it’s my fault! I should be drinking coffee like every other person in the city, but I just like tea! Although, I’ve worked it out: Just ask for it strong and they’ll give you two bags! Hurrah! But just make sure you get cold milk. You’d be surprised how many times I have to put hot milk in tea.
After the upmarket breakfast experience of day one, day two had us determined to try something different. In a haze of indecisiveness after a quick stare around Dean & Deluca, we stumbled on a tiny bagel shop that seemed basic, but busy with people who didn’t appear to be tourists (which is the best sign) Once I put my head in the door I saw there was an impressive display of different types of fresh bagels (labeled from pumpernickel to ‘everything’) all of which made my mouth water and a playlist of forgotten 80’s classics – the other way to my heart. Slightly camp pictures of divas in their heyday like Dolly and Barbara adorned the palm leaf papered walls, smiling at you as you make your choice.
Baz Bagel & Restaurant is at 181 Grand Street, in between Center Market Place and Mulberry Street. Just south of Nolita and Soho and is a far cry from the places surrounding the busy top of 5th Avenue. We won’t talk about the tea but the food was delicious. I had a garlic and onion bagel with scrambled eggs mixed with smoked salmon served with cream cheese. It was all separate so you had to construct it yourself and I have to say it was probably the biggest bagel I’ve had. So for a true slice of New York in the morning, try Baz’s, but if you go for the onion and garlic bagel – Expect more garlic than you think!
Day 3 saw unusually staying in bed a little longer without the need of an early breakfast. I think it was because we adjusted to the time zone and nothing to do with the amount of alcohol we had the previous night. So we decided to do lunch at The Brooklyn diner (The one near Carnegie Hall) even though Alan and I turned up at the one near Time Square while our friends queued at the other. Oops! This offers the authentic diner experience with a classy twist. Hotdogs, burgers, Ruebens but with a wine list that included a pretty impressive pink Prosecco. So as it was midday, what goes better with a turkey and avocado Ruebens than pink fizz? At this point I have to say that it was great even though service was a little vacant (and they ran out of said pink fizz after one bottle!) and their cheesecakes are really good. I’m not a huge fan of the New York baked cheesecake but the ones at The Brooklyn Diner were moist and came with a cream cheese side, so it was like having cheesecake with err… Cheesecake!
I loved the little brass plaques in the booths displaying the names of all the Broadway Glitterati that have eaten there before us. I was very pleased to see that our booth had been used by Sarah Jessica Parker. I kind of hoped that it was during filming of ‘Sex & The City’ and that some sordid conversation had been filmed there. Just imagine what that booth has actually seen! But my favourite place for the authentic busy diner brunch has to be Carnegie Deli (854 7th Avenue at 55th Street). We didn’t get there this time round but it is the home of the MONSTEROUSLY big portions you expect in places like this and the best pastrami Ruebens you’re likely to ever experience. The brass calling cards of Brooklyn are replaced by full on autographed headshots of the rich, the famous and the hungry. I may sign one of my prints for them… Although when I was there last year, they forgot to ask!
Luckily, if you don’t know where you are going to eat in Manhattan, it doesn’t matter because it’s more than likely that you have friends who have dozens of recommendations so for our last day in the city this time round I turned to the recommendation of a couple of friends of ours. 44 ½ is a restaurant that does a decent brunch (if you can get over the side salad replaced by fruit in that unusual US fashion) and is positioned on 10th Avenue between 44th and 45th Street (Get the name now?). The menu looked nice – Lobster and olive oil short crust caught my eye (so obviously we ordered one for the table while we decided what to order). The steak and eggs I had
was nice but the vacant nature of the staff means that I probably wouldn’t return. But it was worth a look at a lot of extremely cam men wearing tight powder pink t shirts strutting around the place under pink paper lanterns, – And let’s not forget the Albariño was cheap and pretty good at the price! You can only order it by the glass but we convinced them to let us buy it by the bottle! Phew!
Before I’m in danger of making myself hungry again I have to mention another great spot that we tried last year. It was the Loeb Boathouse in the middle of Central Park. It’s right on the boating lake and serves classy brunches with great atmosphere. The sausages tasted just like the Irish ones we used to get in Superquinn and if you take long enough, they’ll start serving some of their magnificent cocktails too. It’s a real treat but book well in advance or you’ll find the earliest table you can get for Sunday brunch is in fact on Tuesday at 7.30pm.
Next up… NYC Dinner dates!