I used to work on the Upper East Side, and occasionally I’d walk past Cafe Sabarsky, which is in the same building as the Neue Gallery for German and Austrian Art. This was in the dark ages, before this blog existed, and yet it always stuck in the back of my mind. After starting this blog I started reading other food blogs, and references to the greatness of Cafe Sabarsky starting popping up on blogs like the Amateur Gourmet and My Name is Yeh. On a recent Thursday morning I found myself on the Upper East Side with several hours to kill, and decided to eat breakfast there.
When I first entered the museum, the guard at the front door pointed out that you are not allowed to use your cell phone in the Cafe (there is a less formal cafe on the lower level in which you can use your cell phone). Entering the Cafe itself I passed a table covered in newspapers from around the world, available to read while you eat. The breakfast menu is not very big; instead of ordering a la carte I chose the $13 Wiener Frühstück, a breakfast which is a little expensive for the amount of food you get but not terrible. First they bring out your drinks: a Viennese melange (like a cappuccino, the waiter told me) and a glass of fresh orange juice. I’m not a big coffee/espresso drinker but the melange was delicious, especially after the addition of a single pack of sugar. The orange juice was exactly that; fresh orange juice, a taste that brings me back to my childhood, as my grandparents would juice fresh oranges early in the morning when we visited them (it felt like they would use their electric grinder at 6am, waking us up; the living room where we slept was adjacent to the kitchen).
Then comes a soft-boiled egg with brioche toast. I’d never had a soft-boiled egg before, though it certainly is something I’ve seen depicted in movies and television for years. It seems like the relic of a bygone era, and it was a little difficult to peel the top off of it. Once I did, however, I found the egg to be delicious. With a dash of salt and pepper, I realized that the soft-boiled egg is the spiritual ancestor of the egg custard dishes I’ve had at expensive restaurants like the “mousseline” at Per Se and the “Kinder egg” at Comerc 24. It was rich and creamy and wonderful. As I ate it I was reading a book about the politics of 18th Century England, and it was easy to pretend I was sitting somewhere “on the Continent” reading about the news of the day.
The breakfast also comes with a basket of country bread, served with butter and jam & honey from Staud’s (a specialty food store in Vienna). There were a few different types of bread in the basket, though nothing stood out as special. The raspberry jam was fine, but my favorite combo was a smear of the butter and a drizzle of the honey. Messy, but good.
So yes, I enjoyed my indulgent breakfast at Cafe Sabarsky. I was tempted to add a slice of sacher torte to the meal but I was too full by the end of it. It’s not an everyday breakfast kind of place, but the Old World charm and the sense of pampering yourself makes me want to stop in again the next time I’m in the neighborhood.
Cafe Sabarsky — 1048 5th Ave