Wednesday, April 21, 2010

NYC's Brunch Trainwrecks

Finding a good brunch or breakfast in New York City (at a reasonable price) remains a daunting challenge. This past weekend provided another example of a trainwreck eatery for brunch: Sarabeth's.

Several reviewers heap praise on Sarahbeth's. I had eaten there once before and felt the food was fine -- not bad, not great. But this past Sunday's visit was horrific. Waiting for a table is something you expect at many restaurants in NYC, but this wait was outrageous. I put in my name for a party of 2 and was told that the wait was 30 to 40 minutes. Sure, I know this is only an "estimate," but 1 hour and five minutes later, we were still waiting with no sign that our situation would change in the next 5 to 10 minutes. So we just left.

The food didn't look very appetizing so I'm not sure we missed out on a good meal. We walked a few blocks north to Le Pain Quotidien and had a tasty breakfast at a better price.

I can't speak for the East side location of Sarabeth's, but at the West side location, the staff are extremely slow to clear tables and take orders. The "wait times" they give to customers remind me of the estimated times airlines give for flight delays -- totally unrealistic. There are some people who praise Sarahbeth's, but I just don't get it. They must grading on a curve.

Norma's, the restaurant in the Le Meridien hotel on 56th St., is another place that has won kudos. What makes a place with $7-a-glass orange juice so enticing to them? Good question. It sure as hell isn't the food, which was distinctly mediocre. Even by NYC standards, customers are crammed together so tightly that you could be forgiven if you responded to a question from the adjoining table.