Joanne and I are taking our grandkids to New York next month. As it’ll be their first visit there, we’ll take them to the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Ground Zero…
As time allows – because we have a lot of restaurants to visit.
When people think about dining in New York, visions of 11 Madison Park and Per Se come to mind, but those aren’t realistic choices for kids. And focusing solely on evening dining experiences makes it less likely that you’ll experience one of the best features of New York dining: the breakfast scene.
I’m telling you, if you’re taking kids to New York, give greater thought to daytime eating, because by the time dinner rolls around, your little ones will be so tired and overwhelmed that they’ll turn into honey badgers that just don’t give a shit about where you’re taking them for supper.
I love breakfast in New York, and here are some of my favorites:
SARABETH’S. Simple and delicious, serving perfectly executed dishes that are nicely plated and well-served in a casual, energized ambiance…..several locations.
BALTHAZAR. Joanne and I might skip this one since the kids were just in Paris, and Balthazar’s French vibe and attention to detail transport you there. But if you haven’t been to France in a while and need your fix, Balthazar is a must for breakfast. From the coffee to the croissants, it’s la vie Parisienne….Spring Street in Soho.
RUSS AND DAUGHTERS. My grandkids (and come to think of it, Joanne and I) have never been to Israel, so maybe we’ll come here for the Shakshouka – baked eggs with tomatoes and red pepper sauce, kicked up with cumin and paprika, with plenty of challah for sopping. The kids might not open their mouths for it, but it’ll certainly leave them wide-eyed…..Houston Street
I’m continually stunned by the number of foodies I know who go to New York often, but have yet to have breakfast at Norma’s. Maybe they’re put off by its location in a hotel (Le Parker Meridian on 57th). Perhaps they assume it’s just another mid-town Manhattan corporate breakfast spot.
What they don’t understand is that there’s Norma’s, and then there’s every other breakfast joint in town.
Make a reservation. The place fill ups every day and the waits for walk-ins – even Christopher Walkins — can be up to an hour.
And speaking of celebrities, sightings are common here. Maybe because they can afford a breakfast joint this expensive. Plan on at least $30 – $40 a person – without Bloody Mary’s.
So what makes Norma’s worth it?
The attention-grabber here is the “big food.” Portions are enormous. But Norma’s appeal extends far beyond scale. It’s about the flavors and the quality, and the imagination on display. Plus, Norma’s offers items you just wouldn’t make at home.
I’ve always judged a restaurant’s value quotient by the experience it provides and the memories it creates. And by those measures, this place is a BARGAIN. You’ll be talking about Norma’s for weeks. And the kids won’t ever shut up about it.
Your meal will begin with a shot of a complimentary smoothie. Flavors vary from day to day.
And if you opt for fresh squeezed orange juice, refills are FREE. Or at least they were before global orange crops went into crisis. I suspect Norma’s has kept this feature but just jacked up the price.
Check out the FRUIT PLATE. And the section called “BENNY SENT ME,” featuring various iterations of Eggs Benedict, Eggs Florentine, Norma’s Eggs Benedict, buttermilk pancakes layered with Canadian bacon and grilled asparagus. Once I had an “EGGS BENNY” topped with porcini mushroom truffle sauce.
You can also count on a showstopper in the “LOS AND LOX OF BAGEL.” It’s piled high and served with crunchy cucumber.
If bananas strike your (or, more likely, your kids or grandkids’) fancy, three good choices await you. Check out the BANANA AND MACADAMIA NUT FLAPJACKS with whipped banana brown sugar butter, or their PB&C CARAMELIZED CHOCOLATE BANANA WAFFLE with peanut butter. Then there are the waffles topped with gooey caramel and loaded with bananas, crowned not by whipped cream, but with DEVONSHIRE CLOTTED CREAM. As my wife says, “Pretty f—ing classy!” (Or maybe I said that).
Another megahit: the FRENCH TOAST TREASURE BOX, filled inside and out with fresh berries, and lots of ‘em. And the syrup is real maple syrup – from your own personal bottle.
If your tastes lean savory, check out the HUDSON VALLEY DUCK HASH, as well as the potato pancakes with homemade applesauce.
Want something on the lighter side? Get the LOBSTER MAC & CHEESE and call it a side dish.
A bamboo steamer basket of CHINESE DUMPLINGS for breakfast? Why not?
Mexican or Latino food is often a favorite of mine, and Norma’s has me covered with Huevos Rancheros and Quesadillas. Then there are the FRIED EGGS OVER A BIG AREPA with a side of CHORIZO. They’ll get your system moving (if you know what I mean).
At the end of your meal, you’ll be served a little packed of OVEN DRIED ORANGE SLICES as your petit fours.
One last thing: Norma’s has a fantastic LOBSTER FRITATTA on the menu, loaded with claw meat. I’ve had it once, and everything else I ate the rest of the day paled in comparison.
One thing I haven’t had: The ZILLION DOLLAR LOBSTER FRITATTA. For a thousand dollars (yes, $1,000), you get the above dish, crowned with 10 ounces of Sevruga Caviar.
80 Spring Street
RUSS & DAUGHTERS
174 East Houston Street
119 West 56th