Thursday, January 1, 2009

Brunch at Norma's

This trip to New York was mainly to visit with my friend from college, who married a wonderful man from a foreign country, where they returned to live. She was back in the U.S. on holiday and I was thrilled she had a day to spend roaming the city with me.

Although she's very happy with her husband, her adopted homeland doesn't know from brunch.

In the weeks leading up to the visit, we planned on brunching at Sarabeth's, purveyor of lovely jams and over-the-top omelets. I'd never been there for brunch, but heard good things.

Unfortunately, they take no reservations. And the legendary wait for a Sarabeth's brunch on a Saturday when the city is filled with tourists can take an hour or more. At first, we figured it would be time well-spent, whiling away the hour as we caught up on each other's lives.

But in the days leading up to that Saturday, it was clear the weather was not going to cooperate. Who wanted to wait outside in 20-degree temps with wind and potentially sleet?

Not me.

So I browsed and spotted a reservation at Norma's in Le Parker Meridien hotel. Perfect!

We arrived breathless and starving, having first tried the main entrance, only to find that it was closed for two days! So we had to unexpectedly scurry around the entire block to get in another door.

Luckily, our table was still safe - this despite dire warnings in the reservation confirmation email that if we were more than 10 minutes behind schedule, they'd charge my credit card a cancellation fee of 50 bucks and turn the seats over to the huddled walk-ins waiting to eat.

My friend ordered the Artychoked Benedict -- poached eggs over artichoke hearts with a truffled sauce. On a day when we were struggling against the wind and sleet to get around, the richness was a welcome comfort.

At the same time, my Very Berry Brioche French Toast arrived... topped with a fuchsia-colored orchid blossom.

Two thick slices of tender brioche French toast smothered in syrupy stewed berries -- strawberries, blueberries and the like. While it did not arrive hot, it did remain delicious, and it looked exactly like the snap I found later on their website:

And the decadently priced, $9 bottomless glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice - AKA Sunshine in a Pilsner?

If, like me, you enjoy orange juice, it was totally, justifiably worth the expense. Felt like a Vitamin C jolt and tasted like the perfect combo of tangerine and super-sweet oranges, with just enough pulp for authenticity.

Looking back at that Norma's visit, I realize that was the start of the holiday season for me - a holiday season full of chocolates and homemade butter cookies that I ate by the dozen. A holiday season that officially ends tonight.

Happy New Year to all: I wish you a fun, happy and healthy 2009, spent with people you enjoy.


Kitty said...

glad your trip to NY turned out to be a success!

You'll have to go back to Sarabeth's at some point, though. I'm not a jam person but even I was swooning from their fixings.

Happy New Year, Spandrel!
I hope 2009 is a good one for you and your family.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

I love Norma's. I'm not a french toast person, but the french toast dipped in rice krispies is surprisingly delicious.

Sarabeth's is good too, but you have to get there early - like 9am - or wait 30mins+ even at the one near me on the Upper East Side. The place is always hopping.

Happy New Year Spandrel