Serendipity without John Cusack
Upper East Side, 225 E 60th St., New York, NY
Maybe I was expecting John Cusack to round the corner or gold flecks sprinkled on every single ice cream sundae but I was generally unimpressed by Serendipity. I may have hyped it up in my mind since I have walked by this place countless times, we’ve even stood in line for a table once but eventually gave up and went to Dylan’s Candy Bar around the block. Serendipity is an institution in New York, you hear about it in movies, TV shows, see it in magazines and blogs; all of this hype has made it virtually impossible to get a table there. I had to make reservations weeks in advance and all I wanted was an ice cream sundae. They only take dinner reservations so be prepared to sit down for a full meal or at least order enough to cover their minimum spend per customer: $15 per person.
I had first heard of Serendipity on the Food Network, years before Serendipity, the movie was released. I was instantly attracted to their decadent ice cream sundaes served in a big dessert dish with a whole giant slice of cake dunked right in. I picked the Strawberry Fields Sundae that came with strawberry ice cream, topped with lots of whipped cream and a big slice of cheesecake. I thought it was appropriate since, when in New York, one should definitely gorge on New York cheesecake.
The sundae was just as huge as I had seen on TV and there really was a honky large piece of cake sticking out of the corner of the dish. Could they have picked an uglier strawberry to top this sundae though? It was as if they dug through the kitchen for the most mutated, lopsided berry to plunk on top of an otherwise decadent sundae. The strawberry wasn’t even ripe or maybe everything else in the sundae made the fruit taste more tart than it really was.
I polished off the sundae in no time. The cheesecake was thick and rich, just the way I like and the ice cream was fruity and sweet. The only problem was, there wasn’t anything special about it. If I closed my eyes, I wouldn’t know that I’m eating a Serendipity sundae. I guess I had expected my much-anticipated first Serendipity sundae to have some special trademark flavour or unique twist. Boy, have I ever been brainwashed by popular culture.
Since we had been shoveling junk food into our mouths all day, we decided to share a big fruit plate. Even in the dead of winter, all the tropical melons, pineapple and strawberries on the plate were deliciously ripe, juicy and fresh. Why couldn’t they have topped my sundae with one of the brilliantly red and sweet strawberries from this fruit plate?
For something homey we decided to order the chicken pot pie, which smelled delicious when it came to the table. I loved the light, flaky, buttery crust too. The chicken filling inside was a little runnier than I had liked, the flavours were subtle but the pie was still tasty. I hate to say it, but my boyfriend kept referencing an amazing salmon pot pie we had eaten at a Whole Foods cafeteria, claiming that Serendipity’s chicken pot pie doesn’t even come close and I agree. Then again, Serendipity is famous for desserts so perhaps we can’t judge their entrees so harshly.
Serendipity is home to two very famous desserts which we did not order: the $1,000 Golden Opulence Sundae covered in real gold flecks and the frozen hot chocolate. I simply can’t afford a $1,000 sundae and I always thought the frozen hot chocolate was overrated.
I did enjoy the cozy and eccentric ambiance at Serendipity though. I loved the chairs hanging from the ceiling, the stained glass light shades and the antique shelves in the gift shop stuffed full of cute souvenirs and cans of frozen hot chocolate mix.
Despite the number 3 in the restaurant’s name, there is only one Serendipity in Manhattan. The 3 is in reference to Serendipity’s 3 owners. Remember to make reservations if you don’t want to get stuck waiting in line at this popular restaurant!