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Monthly Archives: February 2010

Sarabeth’s Bakery | New York, NY


Sarabeth’s Bakery

75 Ninth Ave. (in the Chelsea Market)
New York, NY 10011
(212) 989-2424
Open Mon-Fri, 8 am – 7 pm; Sat, 9 am – 7 pm; Sun, 10 am – 6 pm
Accepts cash and credit cards

Date of Visit: Saturday, January 31, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.


IMPRESSIONS
: A few trusted sources recommended Sarabeth’s as a must-stop for the New York City breakfast/brunch tour. Sarabeth’s seems to have a loyal following at all of its locations, including ones West, East, and at Central Park South. Recently they established a relationship with Lord and Taylor, so now Sarabeth’s locations are popping up in L&T stores around New York City. I selected this location – listed as Sarabeth’s Bakery – without knowing it was in the Chelsea Market. This turned out to be fortuitous: not necessarily good news for our visit to Sarabeth’s, but the market was a very pleasant discovery.


Sarabeth’s Bakery is located roughly in the middle of Chelsea Market, so to get to it you pass through a veritable hall of temptation: bakeries, wine shops, boutiques, chocolatiers, butchers, you name it. Very dangerous if you arrive hungry.


This location is specifically called Sarabeth’s Bakery. Next to the tiny restaurant portion is a large space where, I’m assuming, all the baked goodies for Sarabeth’s restaurants are made. Big plate glass windows let you view the action; there’s even a couple tables right by the windows.

ATMOSPHERE: Once you find the bakery itself, you’re in a relatively quiet little enclave, with low ceilings, shelves loaded with goodies, and pretty cramped seating. There are a couple cafe tables “out front,” plus a few inside, and one big long table that we shared with another couple (who were getting a little too close with each other).


The shop itself was relatively quiet. In fact, the whole market was, considering it was a Saturday morning. Much of the shop consists of shelves featuring the various Sarabeth’s goods.

FOOD: In addition to all the baked goodies, jams, and other assortments, you can order a made-to-order breakfast here, although in some ways this menu seems like an afterthought to the location.


I ordered the Pumpkin Waffles. The name alone drew me in. These were four very good waffle slices, with a dollop of soft cream cheese, pistachios, raisins, a raspberry-strawberry sauce, maple syrup (real!), and a side of their homemade jam. Overall, very sweet and delicious, but served on a flimsy plastic plate that went completely against the complexity of the dish.


My wife went for the Oatmeal Pancakes. These were dressed up just as much as the waffles: bananas, powdered sugar, and the raspberry-strawberry spread. Again, very delicious and fun dish, but partly overshadowed by the crappy silverware and plates.


An English Muffin. Very good – the biggest and fluffiest I’ve ever seen. Although it was served with rock-hard cold butter – way too difficult to spread. That’s a pet peeve of mine: serving butter in a nearly unspreadable state.

SERVICE: Service here could use some serious improvement. I don’t like it when you order something directly off the menu, and the people behind the counter act like it’s an imposition, like the menu was just a nice suggestion. When my wife ordered the pancakes, she tried ordering a side of fried eggs (you need to try the eggs to judge a breakfast place!), and the server kept telling her that ordering the eggs and the English muffin was the same as ordering one of their sandwiches, which my wife didn’t want. It took several attempts at explaining it – the servers clearly weren’t listening – before my wife gave up and told them to forget it. The actual service of the food involved them calling out the dish – not your name, even though they took it – from the counter and handing it to you over the register. There’s very little counter space dedicated to the point of sale. This makes for awkward transactions, when they’re trying to hand you food in the same space that other customers are ordering and paying. Not the best use of their space.

OVERALL: Given the creativity of the dishes, Sarabeth’s clearly has a lot going for it, and judging by their expanding locations, they have a big following. The food is tasty and fun – these were some great waffles and pancakes – but the gruff service and plastic tableware left a lot to be desired. Perhaps it’s worth checking out another location!

OTHER LINKS:

Sarabeth's Bakery on Urbanspoon

Video: Fox28 visit to Skillet

Finally got this off the DVR and edited! These are the video segments of my visit to Skillet with Johnny DiLoretto of Fox28’s Good Day Columbus. The quality is decent, and it shows me chatting with Johnny, plus Kevin and Patrick Caskey of Skillet talking about what they do best!

Also, check out this video visit with Johnny at Wild Goose Creative, an arts company of which I’m a co-founder. Johnny stopped by Wild Goose shortly before our New Year’s Festival – the breakfast blog got a few shout-outs during his time there!

Free Grand Slam’s at Denny’s tomorrow!


I don’t normally hawk Denny’s breakfast – I’m always slow to review chains – but I just have to mention free breakfast whenever I hear of it. Tomorrow – Tuesday, February 9 – Denny’s is offering free Grand Slams from 6 am to 2 pm. I hear that last year most Denny’s had lines out the door waiting for these. (FYI Columbus readers: there are NO Denny’s in Columbus, Ohio.)

http://www.hulu.com/edp/http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ehulu%2Ecom%2F/embed/37XnCTdr7tQ8wQWRLrqTLg

[Ad is now offline.]

Denny’s took the opportunity to advertise these free breakfasts to ten billion Americans through Super Bowl ads like the ones above. Incidentally, the ad posted here features a graduate from my alma mater, Calvin College. Represent!

Photos: pumpkin pancakes with bananas foster topping


In the midst of Snowblizzardpocalypse 2010 we, like many other Columbusites, wimped out and hunkered down for the weekend in our home. Saturday morning we made ourselves some pancakes for breakfast. We started with Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancake Mix (made with Snowville Creamy 2% milk, of course) and tried adding a bananas foster (sans alcohol) topping. The Trader Joe’s mix by itself is excellent – it smells like Lindsey’s Bakery pumpkin donuts when cooking. Pictured above is the brown sugar and cinnamon base for the bananas.


Bananas, sliced on the bias so you get long, thin pieces.


Butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. I tried laying out the bananas in the pan. They cook quickly, and I left them too long, so they ended up mushy and not seared. Still, they didn’t taste too bad.

Pancakes in the pan. I love the color, even.


Finished product! We topped it with real maple syrup and a dash of powdered sugar. Overall, not bad. The bananas and pumpkin combo worked, although just slicing the bananas and putting them on the pancakes would be just as good.

Kitchenette | New York, NY

Kitchenette (Facebook / @KitchenetteDown)
156 Chambers St.
New York, NY 10007
(212) 531-7600
Open Mon-Fri, 8 am – 11 pm; Sat & Sun, 9 am – 11 pm (breakfast served till 4:30)
Accepts cash and credit cards

Date of Visit: Friday, January 29, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Favorite breakfast in New York City! Just gonna say that up front. Granted, NYC is huge and we visited only a few places on our recent trip, but Kitchenette topped the list. Special bonus that it was only a block away from our hotel.

Kitchenette has two locations, one Uptown and the one we visited in Tribeca (fun fact: TriBeCa stands for Triangle Below Canal).

Their decor manages to pull off a crazy mix of an urban chic/country kitchen + classic diner. It could have been a serious clusterhug (family friendly term for you-know-what) of design, but it actually creates a really unique and welcoming atmosphere. You get a comfortable mix of mom’s kitchen + neighborhood diner.

Wonderful space and decorations… black and white tiled floor, retro diner stools, tables made of old doors, old cabinets…

…old tin ceiling, dining room chandeliers, artwork…

…old windows and signs, and much more. Keeps you busy just looking around the place.

FOOD: This country kitchen/city diner feel includes the food as well. Check out the water glasses and orange juice in old canning jars, plus the custom Kitchenette mugs. The cream for our (excellent) coffee came in a little chilled mug, too. (Special note to restaurants: just serve us small portions of cold cream with our coffee. Don’t bother with the little sealed plastic cups of unexpirable quadruple-pasteurized half-and-half.)

I picked the Lumberjack breakfast: two eggs, choice of meat, two pancakes. Altogether, super delicious. Scrambled eggs done just right, pancakes with a great texture (made from their own four grain mix), and the sausage… oh, the sausage. Their turkey sausage comes in big chunks, with apples, onions, and spices. They’re like mini meatloafs. Probably the best sausage I’ve had for breakfast (guess I’ll have to update My Ideal Breakfast list). Oh, and they use real maple syrup. Quick soapbox: note to all restaurants… you need to be using real maple syrup, not some high fructose corn syrup substitute. Real maple syrup may be more expensive, but I’m sure you can buy it in bulk from a local farmer, and it makes everything you serve better.

My friend Kurt chose the Lumberjane. Just like the Jack, but with French toast.

My wife selected the Herb and Goat Cheese Omelet, with a biscuit and grits. Excellent and colorful omelet. The biscuit was toasted, which we had never seen before but was still very good. The grits were buttery and therefore amazing.

Plus a side of grilled tomatoes. Very English breakfast.

And our friend Kim chose the Farmhouse Breakfast: two eggs with toasted biscuits, plus an addition of a fresh side salad.

Adding to the classic diner setup at Kitchenette were the big glass displays with homemade pies, pastries, and other delicacies, including (see below) their own ding dongs!



Tempting! The cake under the big glass dome on the countertop.

SERVICE: Our server was very nice, and attentive. For some reason another table seated near us arrived later and got their food first, but we really didn’t mind, because we didn’t have to wait long. We noticed, too, that our server was working the line in the kitchen, too. Nice to see them involved in the entire process.

OVERALL: I vote Kitchenette as the top breakfast in New York. I understand that my six total reviews from this visit barely scratch the surface, but this breakfast raised the bar pretty high. The decor is fun and brings a sense of warmth and welcome, the food is absolutely delicious and freshly prepared, at good prices, and theirs was a menu that left you wanting to return to try more. What’s really delightful about it the place is how they offer an intimate, cozy breakfast oasis in the middle of bustling New York City.

OTHER LINKS:

Kitchenette on Urbanspoon

Magnolia Bakery (Midtown) | New York, NY


Magnolia Bakery
(Facebook / @MagnoliaBakery)
1240 Avenue of the Americas (map it!)
New York, NY 10020
(212) 767-1123
Open Mon-Thurs 7 am – 10 pm; Fri 7-12 am; Sat 8-12 am; Sun 8 am – 10 pm
Accepts cash & credit/debit

Date of Visit: Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 10:30 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: “Let’s head to Magnolia to mack on some cupcakes!” SNL’s Lazy Sunday rap contains my only pop culture reference to the famous Magnolia Bakery in New York City. So perhaps it’s little touristy of me to visit Magnolia during our recent trip there, but I fully embrace it.


We hit up the location in Midtown Manhattan near Rockefeller Center, which I understand is probably not the same experience as visiting the original location in the West Village. I mean, the original is enough of a landmark that it appears in a fairly far zoomed out Google Map of New York City. But still, this visit gave us enough of a sense of the bakery. Next trip to NYC, we’ll hit up the original!


ATMOSPHERE
: We caught it on a fairly busy mid-morning, after acting like “those” people in the background of the Today Show. This location is a little more sleek and touristy than I imagine the original location to be. Beautiful tiled floors, bright displays.


But even for such a small location, the place hummed with activity. We counted about eight employees busy at work.


In the long, narrow space you’re greeted with rows of goodies: cupcakes, cookies, muffins, coffee cakes, plus offerings of coffee and more.


FOOD
: I know, I know… cupcakes for breakfast? Well, Magnolia is a bakery, after all, and bakeries are staples of the breakfast scene, and I have to try the specialty, and Magnolia’s specialty is cupcakes, so yes, cupcakes for breakfast. Anyone have a problem with that? I didn’t think so.


Excellent branding and packaging.


My wife and I chose two cupcakes. I had a chocolate mocha one, and she chose their red velvet cupcake. I love the interesting little swirl of frosting on top – different than anything I’ve seen. It probably holds extras like sprinkles better. Overall, these were two very good cupcakes. Probably not the best in the world, but still good. Nice, soft frosting that wasn’t too terribly sweet. Moist cupcake. Very interesting flavors. In some sense, these seemed a little dolled up. I should have just tried some of their basic cupcakes.

SERVICE: Very good – they’re obviously adept at handling a large flow of customers. We got a friendly welcome, attentive service, and a quick check-out.

OVERALL: I think a visit to Magnolia is a must-do on your New York City vacation list. Part of me regrets not going to the original location, but the Midtown locale still gives you a sense of it, and it’s a nice stop if you’re bumming around Rockefeller Center, NBC Studios, and the like.

Magnolia Bakery on Urbanspoon

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