Doesn’t time fly – life whisks past so fast that if you’re not careful, you’ll be old and wondering what the hell happened – which is where I find myself today. I remember reading about the Clinton St Bakery opening and making a mental note to visit. That was over two years ago, back in January 2014 and this is the first time I have been. Where have the last two years gone?! I feel like I’m late to the party with this review, and all the other restaurant reviewers will be mocking me for not being more on the ball. There is fashionably late, and then there is FoodSheikh late, I guess. In fact, you don’t really need to read on – this is like me writing a review for Star Wars, the original one. Spoiler alert, Darth Vader is Luke’s father. Nothing new will be said here today.
The Clinton Street Baking Company & Restaurant made its name in the Lower East Side in NYC largely due to its stellar breakfast and brunch line-up. Founded by a husband and wife team back in 2001, they eventually expanded to lunch and dinner, and Chef Kleinberg, showing significant business savvy made sure his tried and trusted breakfast was available all day. The fanboys and girls were ecstatic and their enthusiasm spread across an entire city – The Clinton St. Bakery legend was born.
Fast forward 15 years and Clinton St. has expanded its empire across the globe, with outposts in Singapore, Tokyo and of course, Dubai. Clinton St. Bakery lives in Burj Views, the seemingly permanent construction site wasteland behind Downtown proper. An odd and remote location for such a cult classic, but perhaps that is their strategy.
“Come find us,“ they seem to say. “We’re that good.”
Their location doesn’t seem to be affecting them, however, and with only around fifty-five seats, the cozy little restaurant fills up fast – especially late mornings through lunch.
With my newly found concern for my procrastination skills playing heavily on my mind, I was eager to get seated and place my order. Which perhaps is why it felt like another two years before someone came to take our order, although it was probably only 5 minutes in reality. I’m all for a leisurely Friday breakfast, but I have to work on Sunday.
You probably all already know this, but Clinton St. Bakery is all about the breakfast – half of the menu is dedicated to breakfast items, serving uninhibited, unfussy comfort food. These breakfast items are the real deal – comfort food, moreish and rather quite brilliant in their simplicity.
We ordered the organic oats with roasted apple and almonds, the buttermilk biscuit sandwich, the Venezuelan chocolate pancakes and a couple of coffees. Yes, all that food was just for myself and the Serb. It sounds like a lot of food – and yes, it is.
As all of you know, the restaurant design is a modern diner – high-quality booths and banquette seating with white washed brick walls and a semi-open kitchen. Our server was splendid and had the confidence of knowing that the food she was about to serve was probably going to be the best thing we would eat that day. The coffee was hot and strong and was re-filled frequently. The other diners were a collection of nationalities, all young, hip and relaxed. Life is good at Clinton St.
My buttermilk biscuit was crumbly, buttery and had a salty sweetness to it. One-half was smothered in scrambled eggs and melted cheese – the other half was smeared with a tangy homemade tomato jam. There was a spatula scoop of hash browns, crispy and hot off the griddle. The stringy, overly brown beef bacon was left to one side, but the rest suffered from no procrastination from my side this time. It was a deliciously satisfying meal.
For the Serb, the oats were a healthier decoy for the real prize, the chocolate cherry pancakes. The oatmeal could have been warmer, but it was thick and sweet, and the dried apples and roasted almonds added a good texture to the bowl.
Clinton St. pancakes were voted best pancakes in New York by New Yorker Magazine – twice. Apparently, they dominate the pancake scene in NY. I don’t know if there is a pancake scene here in Dubai, but if there is, they would probably dominate here too.
A three-stack of American style pancakes with whipped cream, cherry halves and Venezuelan chocolate held pride of place in the middle of our table. They were fluffy, chewy and crispy – an astonishing contradiction of characteristics.
Clinton St Bakery knows what their strengths are and quite rightly, that is where their focus lies. A solid execution of unpretentious food in a charming environment with confident service. But who am I kidding, you all knew this two years ago.