Sam’s Guide to Going to Brunch Alone: Sam reviews The Bluebell Café

The Bluebell Café

293 Third Avenue (between 22nd and 23rd Streets), New York, NY, 10010

http://www.thebluebellcafenyc.com

Adventures of a Hopeless Foodie Rating:  4/5

The Background

Like everyone in NYC, I love brunch.  And my love for brunch stems from one place in particular.  If any of you watch How I Met Your Mother (and you should, it’s amazing) and you remember the episode “World’s Best Couple” (one of my favorites), you can begin to understand why.  Marshall is desperately lonely in his post-break up depression and misses being able to go out to brunch, an activity for two.  Indeed, the host simply stares at him when he requests a table for one.  He decides to start hanging out his friend Brad that also just experienced a difficult break up, but this soon turns weird when they become more like a couple and less like friends.  After their lengthy discussions about the “eggs benny” being “delish”, I decided I needed to try the dish for myself.  Thus was born my deep love for the dish, and it became one of my favorite things to eat.  I didn’t really used to like breakfast, but eggs benedict made me change my tune.  So I’m always hypercritical of any place offering eggs benedict (although I’ll eat it even if it tastes like junk).  I have to get it every time I can so I can see how it measures up to the others I’ve had.  I’m also exactly like this about cupcakes, but I’ll go into that some other time.

Thus today I decided to go to brunch at The Bluebell Café, less than a one minute walk for me.  I read that its brunch is supposed to be delicious, and it has a Zagat rating of 25, very good for a rather inexpensive place.  This was actually my second visit to the restaurant, my first was the other night when I got one of their grilled cheese sandwiches, but it was my first time dining in.  The best part is it’s a socially acceptable place to eat brunch on your own, if you can’t find anyone that wants to go with, or if you just aren’t in the mood to be with others but still need your brunch fix.  So without further ado, my review:

The Review

The Atmosphere:  So the place is overall rather homey and cute.  It’s sort of like a diner/café mix, because there are a bunch of wooden tables to the right when you walk in, and there is a counter/bar that you can eat at to the left, which is where you sit if you come to eat alone.  It’s a pretty narrow place, only one column with tables and the bar, so when you walk in it feels a little cramped, but I actually got seated pretty quickly, and it doesn’t look like they ever had a really long line.  They played a lot of top 40 hits, which was slightly amusing because most café’s don’t play that kind of music, but I actually enjoyed it.  It’s not one of those uptight overly-fancy brunch places, just a casual kind of restaurant with a lively but not overly-loud volume of background noise.

The Food:  So of course, I had to go with the Crab Cakes Benedict, being the Eggs Benedict connoisseur that I am.  What I really enjoyed was that even though I didn’t order anything to drink, it came with a small glass of orange juice.

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The orange juice was pretty good quality.  It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it certainly had a lot of flavor and tasted fresh.

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As for my entrée, I really enjoyed it.  It is by no means my favorite eggs benedict in the city, but it was a solid meal and I didn’t have to walk very far to get it. The crab cake was really flavorful, and I really enjoyed it, which is saying something because I don’t always enjoy crab cakes, but this one was delicious.  The egg and the bread were good quality.  My only complaints were that I wish there was a bit more sauce, because I really enjoy sauce on my eggs benedict and I like to mix leftover sauce with my potatoes, and my other complaint is that English muffin was slightly burnt, but it was only a tad on the edges.  Also, they didn’t give me a sharper knife to eat it with, which most restaurants usually give you.  But don’t get me wrong, the dish was overall phenomenal.  I don’t think I’ve ever had it with crab cakes instead of Canadian bacon.  Everything really balanced each other out so that no one part overpowered the dish.  The potatoes were actually pretty amazing.  A lot of the time potatoes that come with eggs benedict can feel greasy and heavy, but these were refreshingly light and weren’t greasy at all.  The onions mixed in actually made it a little sweeter.  It was a nice light side to accompany my dish.  Even the fruit, although a very small portion, was all very good quality.  I left feeling extremely full, which surprised me and made me extremely happy.

Overall:  It was a bit pricey, the food cost me $16 plus tax and tip, and that’s basically my food money for the entire day.  And I’ve had better eggs benedict in the city for cheaper (namely Alice’s Teacup).  But for me, I can’t beat the convenient location, and how nice it is to be able to eat alone without feeling awkward.  And the service was prompt, they asked me plenty of times if I needed anything and made sure to refill my water when it was getting low.  The food didn’t take all that long to come out, either.  In my opinion, The Bluebell Café is a worthy brunch location, but by no means the best or the cheapest.  For me, it was simply the most convenient.

Until next time, Eat Up!

~Sam

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