551 Amsterdam Avenue
Corner of 86th Street
New York, New York 10024
So we went to the Popover Café because my dad had heard about it on the Food Network, and he suggested that we go there on his next visit. When I looked up the café, though, I was bummed to find out that it was located on the Upper West Side. And those of you familiar with the NYC area will know what a pain in the arse it is to get from Queens to the UWS. But no worries! It ends up that the café is really close to the Museum of Natural History, which we were already planning to visit, thus making it a perfect place to stop after a day of dinosaur bone viewing.
We stopped in on Labor Day around 1:30 p.m., and we had to wait for about 25 minutes. Which wasn’t bad. When our names were called, we were led through a complete labyrinth of chairs, tables, bodies, booths… It was crazy. But the windows are huge and the brick walls are painted white so it still had a very airy, open feel. My dad made some comments about the crowdedness – he tends to be claustrophobic – but he quickly became at home once we settled in. Because even with the place being so crowded, once you’re in your booth or at your table, this sort of warm, cozy feeling comes over you. It’s that kind of place.
It's super casual. We were all wearing shorts and jeans. The crowd ranged from beautiful people who had just clearly woke up, to families, to people dining alone and reading books. It ran the gamut. Because, again, it's a very neighborhood-oriented, comfortable space.
So the idea is that this place serves some sandwiches and desserts on popovers but, otherwise, it’s a normal café with the usual café fare, for the most part. You can get a basket of 3 popovers as an appetizer and it comes with some dee-lish strawberry butter. Unfortunately, it’s been three days since we went so I’m completely blanking on what my parents ate. But I had an omelette with cranberry, bacon, and cheddar. It was unusual and really wonderful. The eggs weren’t dry, and I loved the play of sweet and salty together. Adam had lemon pancakes with lemon syrup. Sound weird? I assure you, it was special. Again, the tart and sweet played together in a wonderful way that alternately left you feeling satisfied and refreshed. Even Isabell’s French toast rocked with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. For dessert, we had a popover stuffed with ice cream – it was okay, but I don’t know if I’d waste the calories next time. I also ordered Mexican hot chocolate, which came in a mug but should have been served in an espresso cup. It was rich and dark and thick. The best part, though? It had chili powder in it so it just warmed your body and made your throat burn just slightly – a very interesting and unique experience. You can also order the hot chocolate sans chili powder.
The service was good – water glasses stayed full and the meal came in a timely manner – and included a quirky story from our server about the origins of the number 13. Apparently, in non-Christian societies, it’s generally considered a lucky number. But Christianity, in its indoctrination process, decided to preach that it was unlucky. Of course, none of this is substantiated. It came from our server.
It wasn’t a cheap meal, but I also felt like we weren’t just paying for the meal. We were paying for cute ambiance on the UWS on a gorgeous holiday after visiting a museum. I gladly paid the bill and told my parents I loved showing them a good time in my city. I can strongly recommend the Popover Café to others. And for those of you not in the NYC vicinity, the café has a mail-order gift service.