Or because it’s so early, should it really just be breakfast? It doesn’t much matter because if you want to score a table at Penelope for brunch, you’ll need to be an early riser!
We happened to be awake early because I was catching a noon train out of New York City, so it was the perfect opportunity to go. Penelope is one of those very popular places that doesn’t take any reservations and consistently has a crowd on the sidewalk waiting for over an hour for a table.
We got there around 8:15 am, and luckily were one of the last groups to get seated with no wait. The restaurant is very small but very cute, with rustic décor and the scent of fresh brewed coffee.
We decided to start with the source that aroma, and one of their breakfast sweet treats, which is what they are known for. We opted for the raspberry sour cream coffee cake, which was very thick but delicious.
At Penelope you can choose between a $20 pre-fixe and a la carte options for brunch, with the pre-fixe coming with the plate and a cocktail or coffee.
Craving some vegetables after a weekend of heavy eating, I went with the Sam I Am: scrambled eggs with grilled asparagus and feta, along with toast and home fries. I was expecting long, crunchy asparagus spears but in fact the asparagus was chopped up and mixed in with the eggs, which was kind of disappointing. The eggs were also a little cold. Giant chunks of feta needed to be broken up.
We also got the (giant) buttermilk pancakes, which were probably the best of the three dishes.
The last choice was the pick-your-own-fillings Farmer’s Market omelette (no, not omelet).
We all had the pre-fixe brunch, but I could have gotten the regular eggs sans asparagus and it would have been cheaper, even with an added side. If you’re going to get a cocktail, the pre-fixe works, but if not then don’t discount the a la carte items.
By the time we were done, a sizable crowd was huddled in the doorway, some even on the street despite the 20-degree weather.
If you want to go to Penelope solely based on its popularity, be sure to get there when it opens (8 am), especially if you have a group. The sweet treats were the highlight, so go for those. Otherwise, you could hit up your favorite diner for eggs and home fries that are just as good if not maybe better than the ones here.
Penelope is located at 159 Lexington Ave. No reservations.