Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Brunch Bets: Clinton Street Baking Company
Part of what makes brunch so appealing to many people is the amount of options available. Not confined to only breakfast or lunch choices, brunch is that perfect hybrid combining the best from both meals onto a single menu. I usually find that people fall into one of two camps: the savory, or the sweet camp. I've been firmly entrenched in the savory camp for my entire life, preferring a salty chip to a sweet cookie, but have on occasion changed my mind if something particularly appealing presents itself. This was the case when MW and I found ourselves waiting in line on the lower east side one Saturday morning.
Ever since 2001 when husband and wife duo Neil Kleinberg and DeDe Lahman opened the Clinton Street Baking Company it has been making some of the best food in all of New York. But if this lower east side institution is known for one meal in particular it has to be brunch. Over the years the Clinton Street Baking Company seems to have found its way onto just about everybody's "best brunch" list where they are known for their award-winning blueberry pancakes. Every morning droves of tourists and locals alike flock outside the restaurant to eat these pancakes. These pancakes are so popular that they are included on all menus so you can order them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Knowing Clinton Street Baking Company's popularity, MW and I were fine with a 40 minute wait and decided to make the best of the nice weather and grab a snack from the nearby Doughnut Plant in the
Our timing couldn't have worked out better as our names were called by the hostess shortly after we returned from our walk. We were seated at the bar which was nice considering the tight seating arrangements in other parts of the restaurants. We started our brunch with a Hot Chocolate and a Bloody Mary. The hot chocolate was huge and had a strong chocolate flavor without being too thick like some of the others I've had. The bloody mary was good but would have benefited from more heat.
MW ordered The Country Breakfast, which included three eggs any style (scrambled soft), a grilled 'cure 81' ham steak, hash browns and a buttermilk biscuit. This dish contained everything a breakfast lover would want. Albeit thin, the ham steak was full of flavor without being too salty and the eggs were perfectly cooked. The hash browns looked so good, having a nice crust on them but turned out to be a disappointment as they lacked enough seasoning. Perhaps the best thing on the plate was the buttermilk biscuit. The biscuit's crusty exterior yielded to a soft inside, practically inviting you to spread some of the Clinton Street's complimentary homemade raspberry jam on it.
Though I usually defer to more savory options I just couldn't come here without ordering some of Clinton Street's famous pancakes. You have two options of how to get your pancakes: banana walnut or wild Maine blueberry. I chose the Wild Maine Blueberry Pancakes. I had seen the episode of Food Network's Throwdown with Bobby Flay featuring Clinton Street Baking Company's blueberry pancakes so I had some idea of what to expect. Three large pancakes topped with some blueberry and powdered sugar arrived on a plate next to a small dish of maple butter. Cutting into the pancakes revealed even more blueberry's which were kept in tact. Immediately after taking my first bite I knew these were the best pancakes I've ever eaten. Unlike so many foods the hype surrounding these pancakes were completely justified. Incredibly light, full of blueberry flavor and sweet enough when dipped into some of the incredible maple butter, these pancakes are still the standard to which I compare every other pancake to.
In addition to the pancakes I supplemented my breakfast with a side of Sugar Cured Bacon. I love bacon, who doesn't? But this bacon was cured in sugar before being cooked, thus imparting a sweetness that complimented the natural saltiness of the meat. This stuff is crack for bacon lovers and is a must try for anyone that enjoys the sweet-savory combination in their foods.
With so many restaurants that serve brunch in New York its hard at times to differentiate between those places that receive all of the hype and those that truly deserve it. Clinton Street Baking Company's blueberry pancakes made me into a believer in the merits of sweeter brunch options. So if you have some time to kill and find yourself in the lower east side or just want to some killer pancakes then Clinton Street Baking Company is the right destination for you.
Clinton Street Baking Company
4 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002
To see all of our pics, please click the flickr link.