I am a French toast and pancake maven.
I could eat one or the other every day (though I try not to). When I walk into one of several restaurants or diners on the Upper West Side, the waitperson doesn’t bother to ask me what I want to order.
I am a regular at these places, and my order very rarely changes. I know my French toast and my pancakes. And as far as I’m concerned, there are only a few places on the Upper West Side worth going to, and each has its own way of making me a fan.
My choice for the day depends on my mood. Edgar Café on 92nd St. and Amsterdam Ave. makes wonderful French toast and adds a little bowl of yogurt and a small cup of fruit. I only drink brewed decaf. Edgar’s has superb decaf and so I often head there.
Or perhaps Deluxe Diner on 112th St. and Broadway, which is a diner par excellence. Aside from the most wonderful French toast with caramelized bananas, the decaf is also tops. They have very good blueberry pancakes also. Deluxe also has the best diner food in the area. Everything is delicious.
And then there’s Crepes on Columbus at 109th St. The French toast seems to be a secret recipe, perhaps fried, and it is somewhat different from the others and yet mouth watering also. Sadly, the decaf is not worth my ordering.
Sugar & Plumm on 78th St. and Amsterdam Ave. is often noisy and crowded, but it’s a large and light-filled place, and the lemon ricotta pancakes are simply heaven. The service is friendly and the presentation is appealing, with a ripe strawberry perched atop the mouth-watering pancakes. Unfortunately, the decaf is watery and unappealing, and I am forced to skip it. My friends tell me the other items are delicious, too, though so far I’ve only had the pancakes.
The diners in my area all serve pancakes and French toast, but they are standard diner fare and the coffee and decaf is dreadful. It makes me wonder why some places can make good coffee and others don’t; perhaps no one cares or perhaps they don’t try very hard. I don’t know the trick, but I do know where to go.
One more place to try to French toast and pancakes is Big Daddy’s on Broadway and 91st St. It’s often jam-packed and noisy, especially on weekends. The TV is always blaring, and the service is spotty. However, the French toast and pancakes are very good. The French toast is served with a blueberry and strawberry compote and whipped cream. The decaf is average and I usually skip it. Big Daddy’s is a chain, but I include it because of its Upper West Side location.
Naturally, there’s always Sarabeth’s Kitchen on 81st St. and Amsterdam Ave. It’s known for its breakfast foods, including excellent pancakes and French toast, but the prices have soared and I don’t feel that the quality or quantity has soared with the cost. And of course there’s the now-shuttered Popover, sadly gone after many years on the Upper West Side.
So that completes my own personal list. I’m off to Edgar’s Cafe for my French toast. Please feel free to join me.