Breakfast in New York: Bar Americain and Norma’s

I’ll be perfectly honest, the days when I miss living in New York are few and far between.  Mostly I love “country living,” but also as time has passed many of my friends have moved out of the city.  On top of that, now that I’m no longer single, crashing at someone else’s place is a bit more of an imposition than when I could just climb into bed with one of my girlfriends at the end of a night on the town, or fall asleep on a recliner in someone’s cramped apartment.  But every once in a while I go in to visit a pal, or see a concert, or just to have a really nice meal.  This weekend, BD and I went to New York to celebrate our anniversary.  

Originally, I had planned for the two of us to have a fancy pants dinner at Blue Hill, Dan Barber’s upscale farm-to-table eatery in the village, but at the last minute changed our plans and just had a picnic dinner instead…. sadly this means we missed dining with the Obamas, who must have taken our cancelled reservation (just kidding).  

That said, we didn’t really have a fancy pants dinner while in town, which is just fine with me, because my favorite meal is and always has been brunch.  We were staying in midtown, which is a neighborhood that I admittedly have spent almost no time in, having always been too snobby to be a tourist.  This weekend I embraced my inner tourist and did only touristy things, and ate at only touristy places.  

Bar Americain

Saturday morning we went meandering through the theatre district, and I thought to myself, “oh I think Bobby Flay’s restaurant is in this neighborhood.”  It was.  We found it with little trouble, and arrived just as they were opening for brunch service.  The menu was surprisingly vegetarian friendly, and although I hate Bobby Flay as a celebrity chef personality, I knew we’d be in at least for a decent meal.  I don’t know if I just had low expectations going in, but this meal was fantastic from start to finish.  




BD had the buttermilk flapjacks with roasted apricots (!!!) and pecans w/ maple syrup.  We swapped plates midway through meal, so I can tell you from firsthand experience that this was a divine breakfast.  I will be making my own roasted apricots very soon, I could have eaten a whole bowl of them.  The flapjacks were very light, not overly sweet, and the carmelized tanginess of the apricots was nicely matched by sweet maple syrup and the nutty crunch of the pecans.  



I ordered this egg dish which was a blue corn taco with fried eggs (perfectly cooked), chiles, black beans, and some spicy guacamole… it was pretty awesome, although I could have lived with less cilantro.  As much as I think highly of my cooking skills, cooking an egg perfectly needs to move to the front of my list of skills to learn, pronto. 

Also, maybe its the recession, or maybe everyone is just “over” Bobby Flay, but this restaurant was pretty empty on a sunny Saturday morning.  Final note: BD says the coffee was really exceptionally good.


After breakfast we went uptown to be tourists some more.  We enjoyed a few hours of educational exhibitions and stuffed dead animals, then departed for Central Park where we slowly made our way back down to the hotel.  I was especially thrilled with the sight of a turtle and a cormorant sharing a rock in the lake at the park.  Hooray for coexistence.



Norma’s at Le Parker Meridien

We stayed the night at Le Parker Meridien, and this morning we treated ourselves to a fancy pants brunch at Norma’s, one of the hotel restaurants.  I could have seriously eaten here every day for a month and not run out of things I wanted to try on the menu.  Items like, “Hot Chestnut Pancakes,” “Light & Lemony Griddle Cakes,” and “Artychoked Benedict” called my name.  But alas, we settled on none of the above.

BD had these mango crepes with brown butter and cinnamon.  The crepe was a little thick for my tastes, but the flavor combinations were quite lovely.

I went for the potato pancakes.  As you can see, there was more on the plate than some shredded and fried potatoes.  The pancakes were served along side cranberry applesauce, some crunchy shredded potato sticks, and an apple full of carrot pasayam (fancy indian cuisine word, but really this was a puree), with a small salad of greens.  The textures, colors, and flavors of this dish combined in the way that I think every chef wants every dish to work.  The potatoes were salty and surprisingly ungreasy, the apple and shredded potato sticks were crunchy, the cranberry applesauce was tart, the carrot puree was sweet, and the greens were slightly bitter.  I basically ate each pancake by piling on applesauce, carrot puree, a slice of the apple, some greens, and the potato sticks and eating each forkful with all flavors and textures in one bite.  I couldn’t quite clean my plate, but I sure wish I could have! 

All said, it was a lovely weekend, but I’m glad to be home.  I’ll be looking forward to a good night’s sleep where the only sound from “the street” is some leaves rustling in the breeze.

2 Responses to “Breakfast in New York: Bar Americain and Norma’s”

  1. 1 Sarina June 2, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    This is odd…I was in the Big Apple enjoying great food over the weekend, too. I also went to Central Park on Sunday but it was too crazy with Japan Day to hang out very long. It would’ve been really weird to run into you!

  2. 2 capri June 2, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    stranger things have happened! I think its getting to the point now where we’ll have to make plans to run into each other sometime this summer.

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