The Brunch Dish: Bread Pudding French Toast at Corner Cafe & Bakery
[Photo: Nikki Goldstein]
Brunch gems on the upper Upper East Side may be harder to come by than in other neighborhoods, but that doesn't mean there aren't a good handful of worthy spots. One is the Corner Cafe & Bakery on 92nd and 3rd, which feels a lot closer to the suburbs than it really is. The place is unbelievably homey—last week, the dining room donned home-made decorations like turkeys and leaves speckled with glitter that hung sweetly from the ceiling. The food is good enough, but without the charming ambiance it would be a lot less satisfying; together, these components are bound to strike that perfect nostalgia factor for anyone who stumbles in.
Corner Bakery's menu is fairly standard, but one dish is out of the ordinary: the bread pudding French toast, which re-configures the dish's signature ingredients and puts them back in a completely different way. Bread pudding, after all, is generally made from brioche, one of the most common choices for French toast (second only to Challah!). It's served as a single slice, so dense and rich that you really wouldn't want much more. The dessert favorite gets its brunch edge when dredged, seared to a lightly crunchy exterior, and served with syrup. The last bit, however, is also the dish's main weakness. It wasn't pure maple syrup that came to the table, just a watered down version that sogged the bread without adding the robust flavor of the real thing.
Fake syrup and all, I left Corner Cafe happier than I leave most brunch spots—not because the food was phenomenal, but because it was the kind of homey relaxation that anyone can benefit from after a long week. And frankly, for anyone who lives in the area and diligently treks south of Central Park for notable brunch finds, it may be just the place worth saving the ride.