(New York, NY) — Despite our tradition of eating (well, mostly) two meals a day on the weekends, we could not resist the lure of The Lamb’s Club for an early breakfast on Saturday. We’ve enjoyed watching Chef Geoffrey Zakarian on Chopped and were curious to discover his style of cooking. The alarm clock seemed to go off earlier than anticipated, but we gamely threw on clothes and strolled a few blocks from our hotel to feed our curiosity...
I love the cloistered yet grand entrance into The Lamb’s Club. It is flanked by a pedestal menu and placard, which somehow screams both “New York” and “French” to me, for some reason. We go inside, past a sumptuous connecting hallway to the Chatwal Hotel and a nicely stocked bar that is, of course, empty this early in the day.
The hostess stand is at the entrance to the restaurant proper, beyond which we can see a swanky, red leather appointed room with a roaring gas fireplace. We are shown to a small but not crowded table (I get the booth side, so I can take better video). I am blown away by the art deco furnishings and almost occult plush design. It feels as though some red-robed cultists from the 20’s will file into the room, chanting, at any minute. The bloody red color of the room adds to the hellish vibe. Don’t get me wrong...it is crazy cool in a retro way.
Coffee is the first order of business. They serve Intelligentsia, which I’m not sure I’ve ever had before, but it is strong and black, providing muscle with some finesse, particularly when cutting with cream. I’m immediately a fan. I know we have a big lunch planned so I decide to skip right to a main dish and call it good. The Lemon Ricotta Pancakes are calling me, but it is the lure of maple butter that turns my head to the Stuffed French Toast.
Now, I may order French toast once in a blue moon. Usually it’s too eggy or too sugary (with syrup) or too filling. Zakarian’s version isn’t really stuffed, in the sense that I’d hoped the blueberry jam were somehow injected into the bread. Instead, it’s a thin layer between two pieces of fluffy toast coated in a deft batter of egg. I melt some of the maple butter on top, then pour warm maple syrup all around. The fork slices into the bread neatly, without having to work at it, revealing a soft, airy interior. My first bite is light and flavorful. The blueberry, maple, and bread all resonant with flavors wrought with a painter’s touch. It is not the usual heavy lump of dough I’ve come to expect from French toast. I mop up every last drop of the butter and syrup.
In a city busting at the seams with—shudder—brunches, breakfast at The Lamb’s Club is refreshingly straightforward on paper yet devilishly understated in execution. And while Juliet proclaims her Southern Style Benedict “the best breakfast” she’s ever had, I am dying to go back at night, when the bar is filled with spiritualists communing with the dead and the dining room cleared to accommodate an altar upon which a bleating beast is prepared for the evening’s special.
I have to admit, I'm not really excited about breakfast today. Or any day really. I'll trade overpriced eggs and toast for an extra hour's sleep anytime. Plus it's hard to eat healthfully on the road and breakfast can be the worst. Sure, some restaurants toss in a yogurt parfait or a grapefruit half, but I'd almost always rather grab a yogurt cup, a banana, and a latte in the hotel lobby coffee bar than get dressed and schlep across town for a grown-up sit down breakfast...especially after a night of numerous wine pours. But Jeremy's done his research and wants to try The Lamb's Club, owned by Geoffery Zakarian, the chef perhaps most recognizable as one tough cookie of a judge on Chopped.
There's no schlepping involved; The Lamb's Club is mere blocks from our hotel and it gives me a chance to point out the street vendor I once bought a "questionable" Coach overnight bag from for $30. I may not want to part with my money for eggs and toast, but I will barter 20 minutes for a chocolate brown leather-trimmed satchel of dubious origin. Priorities people!
The decor is reminiscent of the 40's with red leather banquettes, a massive imposing fireplace, dark walls, and red torchiere lamps. Black and white photos of celebrities from bygone eras line the walls. Sinatra music and similar tunes croon throughout the meal. The vibe of the place is very cool and so very New York.
I promise to eat a decent breakfast, then debate between a smoothie or the oatmeal, when I see the Southern Eggs Benedict: Bayonne—French air cured—ham salad, chive hollandaise, and a cheddar biscuit. Now this seems like a good reason to go to breakfast! In the interest of health, I compromise and order the benedict and an $11 bowl of fresh berries.
The benedict is utterly fabulous in every way. The cheddar biscuit is slightly, but not too, crunchy and topped with a creamy ham salad, which in turn is topped by the most perfectly poached egg and a lush little puddle of the oniony hollandaise. Strangely enough, it's not completely cloying or overly rich, which you think it would be with all those luxurious ingredients. It's probably one of the best benedicts I've ever had. The potatoes that accompany are delightful as well. The bowl of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries is gorgeous and delicious with not one marred berry in the batch.
Breakfast at The Lambs Club has made me hungry—for a winter dinner at a table near that fireplace.