Going to the Upper West Side on a weekend can be a very stressful experience. With long lines and crowds as the norm, serenity does not always prevail. We had plans to brave the crowds today, since we had tickets for a play, A Tooth Fairy Tale, on 76th and Broadway, at the Vital Theatre where Pinkalicious ran last year (which was worlds better).
I was charged with coming up with some nearby dining options which is never easy in that neighborhood. For years I have been dying to have a Barney Greengrass experience but for reasons unbeknown to me, my friend L. was opposed to a Jewish brunch. Ouest, another possibility on my "to dine" list, was booked and I lost my almost reservation at Norma's (not exactly UWS but close enough for us to get to). This left me brunchless and ready to ditch the Upper West Side entirely and just hike down to Clinton Street Baking Company which I have only visited once in the past five years. I can assure anyone in need of a brunch nirvana, this is your place. Just go early or expect lines. I know L. and her kids would love it, as would Izzy but alas, that wasn't meant to be either.
When we parked our car and discovered that it would cost $47 for parking, we realized that moving the car would not be an option. Being of the carless ilk, I had no idea of current NYC parking prices, OUTRAGEOUS!
The play was about to begin and I still had no idea where we would be eating when I decided to give Nice Matin a call. A popular option and only a few blocks away but they didn't accept reservations. We decided to give it a go anyway, only to arrive to find hoards in front of us. We plowed through to find a hostess and were rewarded with being seated immediately. It certainly wasn't my dream brunch but we all ate well, Izzy had the Belgian Waffle with Strawberries and I the Creamy Polenta and Eggs with grilled radicchio (which added an unexpected smoky touch to the dish).
A visit to the city with my friend L., without a trip to Zabar's, would not be complete so after lunch we wandered on over there. I didn't really need anything but she left with two bags brimming and looking decidedly grumpy. When I asked why the reply was something like, "I just can't take the crowds up here." So true but we just can't stay away.
nb: Sorry to report that A Tooth Fairy Tale lacked the charms of its predecessor.