Thanks to graduate school, I have been bad at actually getting around to writing about the restaurants I visit. Back when Mango Mama and Daddy Salmon were in townâ€” a fantastic, but too-short visitâ€” we went to a number of good places. On Daddy Salmon’s last day in town we met up for brunch with my uncle Chocolate Cake and my aunt Lady Lasagne who came into the city from Long Island. Our meeting place was Sarabeth’s Kitchen, which offers a fine and relatively affordable example of a classic Sunday brunch.
Sarabeth’s is a breezy space with lots of light and a hint of a country home feel. The wait was a fairly manageable half hourâ€” pretty decent for the Upper West Side on a Sunday. Empanada Boy got into the spirit of things right after we sat down, ordering himself a Bloody Mary. The drink was attractively garnished with julienned peppers, onions and pickles. The flavor was well balanced, with a nice kick of vinegary hot sauce, although I prefer my Bloody Marys a little thicker than this one.
The menu at Sarabeth’s consists of staples like oatmeal (in Baby, Mama and Papa Bear sizes) with fruit toppings and omelets various fillings. Mango Mama and Lady Lasagne went for the fluffy garden omelet with various vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes and sharp cheddar cheese. Mango Mama got hers with a nice, crumbly currant scone.
Sarabeth Levine, the mastermind behind the whole operation, is best known for her baked goods. She apparently started out with a bakery business, selling her scones, breads, cookies, cakes and jams. The restaurant came afterward, as another way to display her baking talents. Considering this, I thought it would be worthwhile to try some of the sweeter breakfast options. I ordered the lemon and ricotta pancakes with fresh berries. From the outside, these look like plain old pancakes, but they have lemon zest cooked right into them. This gives them a bright, tangy edge, which is then counteracted by the subtle, rich ricotta. They were so lemony that I thought the syrup had lemon in it too.
Daddy Salmon and Chocolate Cake had bowls of porridge followed by the pretty “Fat and Fluffy French Toast,” shown above. These were good, but not really any better than the French toast Mango Mama and I make with our leftover challah at home. True to his experimental streak, EB opted for the potato waffles with chicken-apple sausage, apple sauce and sour cream. They were basically latke waffles, but not as good. They lacked the delicious oily, crispiness of latkes, which are basically their best features. I guess that’s what happens when you try to mess with tradition.
All in all, Sarabeth’s Kitchen was a good choice for brunch. Some of my past complaints about brunch food being easily replicable at home still stand here, but for the most part, they make an extra effort to set their food apart. If I go back, I will try the cheese blintzes and more of the baked goods. The restaurant also serves lunch and dinner, but on a lazy Sunday, who needs lunch when you can have brunch?
423 Amsterdam Ave.
New York, NY 10024