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breakfast (NOT BRUNCH), UWS

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Need help with a couple of things. We are staying at the Lucerne (W 79th) over a weekend next month, and are looking for a place where we can have a simple, light Saturday morning breakfast (bready things for me, fresh fruit & yogurt for hubby, and decent coffee) without having to wait half an hour.
Later in the day, we will probably meet up at the hotel with the in-laws. Again, looking for lunch (not brunch) within walking distance for two fit but older folks, nothing too spicy, crowded, or loud. (We will probably do Sunday brunch at Nice Matin so no need to go there twice.)
Thanks in advance!

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  1. For simple breakfast, Le Pain Quotidien

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lucia

      agreed. and if you don't make it for breakfast, this would fit your lunch need as well. - 84th/amsterdam

    2. I have always liked Isabella's on 77th and Columbus for lunch. They have everything on the menu from soup to pastas to salads to sandwiches to omelettes. A decent wine list, if you like to indulge. Very open and airy, a fave on the UWS. Nice people watching and a cool vibe.

      http://www.brguestrestaurants.com/res...

      Next month will be warmer so you can either sit outside or by the windows, if it is available. Make a ressie, not sure if you can request a table outside or by the window but you can try. It is still nice and open and bright even if you are not by the windows.

      1. You can go to the Manhattan Diner on B'way and 79th.

        I know you specifically said no brunch, but the one at Nice Matin is really lunchy - they have all sorts of sandwiches, soups, salads, even steak frites. And the bread basket is awesome. http://www.nicematinnyc.com/

        5 Replies
        1. re: piccola

          good enough to eat is your answer. 83/amsterdam. fresh breakfast with all over your specs in a cute country/vermont-like setting. they have been at it for a long time and still get it right. you may wait on line, but it's worth it.....

          1. re: piccola

            Not that I'm recommending it, but Manhattan Diner is 77th and Broadway.

            1. re: harrison

              if generic diner brekfast is what u want the Viand coffee shop next to the Beacon Theatre Bway @ 74th will suffice. I've come to grudgingly appreciate the Fairway Cafe for breakfast/lunch. no atmosphere to speak of but the eggs and oatmeal are good. it's upstairs from the grocery store Bway @ 75th. IMHO Nice Matin is a rip-off.

              1. re: mcoleman

                disagre regarding nice matin. i always protect this place b/c the food is just plain good!

                1. re: jsmitty

                  Oh I liked the food there (dinner menu) esp the "sole milanese" but some of the servings were just too skimpy and I'm no trencherman. and the wine by the glass, forget about it, a few oz for $12-$15. so we stopped going.

          2. You're practically next door to the best possible spot for a simple breakfast in that area. Go to Columbus Bakery on Columbus between 82nd and 83rd. They have excellent breakfast and coffee. Lots of first rate breads and pastries, and additionally they have great fruit and yogurts. You can also head back here for lunch, the salads and sandwiches and gourmet pizzas are fantastic.

            If you're looking for something to perhaps have in your room, not dine in, there's an excellent deli a few blocks north of there, it's on Columbus between 85th and 86th, it's right next door to a strange little second hand book seller. It looks like a generic UWS deli, but the sandwiches are much better than average, and they have really good fresh fruit and yogurt items.

            Someone recommended Isabella's earlier, and I agree with that idea also.

            1. I'd skip Fairway Cafe because it is a bit too noisy, and the food is really average at best. Also, Good Enough to Eat, while tasty, will have a line. And you will wait at least 30 minutes for a 4-top. And it will be crowded. Columbus Bakery is also pretty blah, to yech. I've noticed a steady, terrible decline in the quality since they opened the little hot bar area. I'd skip all these, plus any diner recommendations you might get because none are worth eating at if you are on vacation.

              I've done a meal with the in-laws at Nice Matin and it is ok. Not memorable, not a great price and the food is fine. It's quiet and you can make a reservation so that should be okay.

              Maybe for a breakfast/snack for you and your husband, you should try Levain Bakery on West 74th off Amsterdam. Waaaaay better than Columbus Bakery and a little less busy than Le Pain Quotidien (at 84 and Amsterdam - LPQ is a national chain). I seem to recall actually seeing a yogurt cup there once, but everyone goes for the breads and cookies, and they have coffee.

              For lunch, Isabellas is a good choice. Ocean Grill, across the street from Isabellas is also a fairly nice parent-approved spot and is owned by the same restaurant group as Isabellas. I'm also a fan of the Neptune Room btwn. 84/85 on Amsterdam and I actually recommend that over Nice Matin for brunch, or lunch. And I just saw that Celeste (also 84/85 on Amsterdam) is doing a brunch and lunch now on weekends, tho I have not tried it yet. Celeste is an Italian, cash-only, no-resy place and for me, and many other people on this board, a solid dinner spot.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Westrite

                While I love Celeste, OP doesn't want crowded or loud - Celeste is most definitely both.

                1. re: harrison

                  I can guarantee you - Celeste has totally not been busy for lunch and brunch the last two weekends. Dinner is another thing, yes of course it is busy, but I don't think too many people know yet about the brunch/lunch menu at Celeste.

                2. re: Westrite

                  westrite this is a good post. accurate. although i think good enought to eat is worth the wait.

                  1. re: Westrite

                    I was also going to recommend Levain but it is so tiny...not sure if they wanted a comfortable yet simple sit down place. BTW: their brioche stick is "to die for"! :-) so are their oatmeal raisin cookies. Not a chocolate fan so cannot speak of those items but I would assume just as great.

                  2. I know it's got a bad reputation on this board as a big brunchy zoo, but I've had consistently good luck at Sarabeth's by getting there on the early side (before 9:30-10am) and the food is great. My experience is more with egg dishes and their excellent oatmeal, so I can't vouch for fruit and yogurt. I *love* the english muffins with preserves.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: Allstonian

                      I think you'd pretty much have to be dead not to love Sarabeth's preserves! I can eat them with just a spoon!

                      1. re: Allstonian

                        I second this recommendation. I think Sarabeth's would be just what the OP is looking for. Especially if going on the early side for a light meal, you'll have a classy experience and not as noisy or as uncomfortable as going to one of the bakeries or diners.

                        1. re: Allstonian

                          Thanks to all who have replied...
                          I'm not sure about the "getting there on the early side" part. Just out of curiousity though: a few years ago we tried to get into Sarabeth's, to no avail, and we ended up across the street at a place with a Russian name/theme...does this sound famliar?

                          1. re: rudysmom

                            Hmmmm, a Russian place doesn't sound familiar at all in that neighborhood.

                            OH! For a simple breakfast that is like a coffee shop, but slightly fancier/more Chow-ish, EJ's Luncheonette is very good around there as well. It's on Amsterdam and 80th/81st. Also try Cafe Con Leche on the same block. I haven't tried this one, but I used to go to the one on 96th all the time.

                            1. re: rudysmom

                              across the street is cafe con leche.....

                              1. re: rudysmom

                                There isn't a Russian place in that block, or really anywhere near there that I can think of. I like Sarabeth's too, but again, my in-laws wouldn't stand for the wait no matter how good the food. Another place just came to me -- Popover Cafe at 86/87 Amsterdam. It is sort of like EJs but with less screaming kids, pretty decent popovers and an american standard menu. I recommend it with hesitation only because it isn't a place I eat at regularly, but a place I go when I want some comfort lunch food and am too lazy to walk or stand in line. I always tend to eat the same thing-- popovers, a sandwich with an Arnold Palmer (Ice tea and lemonade).

                                I took my in-laws to Popover once because we couldn't think of any place else to go and it is quiet and good for Grandma and they loved it. So much so, they always want to go there instead of a more upscale place. It's pretty good chow at a good value and better than any other diner in the area and you will leave mostly happy.

                              2. re: Allstonian

                                I can't help but recommend the pumpkin waffle. It is probably one of the best breakfasts I've ever had.

                                1. re: qwertyu

                                  I know this is an old thread but I want to offer first-hand testimony that old threads live on and can provide great joy. We were in New York last weekend, staying next to the Natural History Museum, and based largely on the information in this thread we made our way to Sarabeth's for breakfast a bit before 10 on Friday morning. Only a couple of tables were empty inside but that was enough for us (the outside tables were all unused as well) and we had a killer breakfast with lovely service. I had heard of Sarabeth's from the jams (sold all over here in L.A.) and the Whitney but I wouldn't have known to order the pumpkin waffle but for this thread and all I can say is--wow! I agree with qwertyu--it's spectacular. Thanks, all.

                                  1. re: PayOrPlay

                                    Good post. Brunch is one of the city's biggest scams. On the UWS, you must try Big Nick's for breakfast. An original dump.

                                    1. re: BronxBoy

                                      What's good at Big Nick's?

                                    2. re: PayOrPlay

                                      it was amusing to run across my old post. we too ended up at Sarabeth's that day, early enough to snag an outdoor table.
                                      brought home jam to give to the neighbors.
                                      the part i liked best about that day was pretending that we lived in the nabe. (minus the strollers & dogs)