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By Steven Li on 2006-11-18

November 18, 2006

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I got so caught up in deciding if I should work or cook that I didn’t realize until today that my last two posts have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with food! I apologize! But now…let me present Clinton St. Baking – the most delicious brunch I’ve ever had in the city.

I came here with Ingrid the morning, or rather, afternoon, after my KPMG interview. I was so exhausted that I didn’t wake up until 2pm Sunday morning! Crazy. I never wake up that late. Well, we trucked on down Broadway, onto Houston then made a right onto Clinton Street. I first learned about this place from Robyn’s post – it was the phrase “maple butter” followed by, “And I think I could ingest a bucket of it…one of the most memorable things I’ve ever tasted in my life,” which drew me in. How could it notdraw you in? The restaurant is a tiny, bustling home with lines of people outside the door at the not breakfast, not lunch, not yet dinner hour.

I put my name down with the hostess who said the wait would be 60 minutes. Gaaah. That would not do. We were hungry. But we were also desperate. So we decided to wait. As we walked back out, Ingrid pointed out a super tiny empty counter table that would fit two if you squished. Super squished. So we went back in and asked the hostess. “You want to sit there?” she asked in slight disbelief. I guess not too many people sit there. It wasn’t a bad table. Prime location, good for people watching. It was just very very small. She gladly obliged, gesturing us towards the counter. It took Ingrid and I a minute or two to squeeze in, bags on laps, coats beneath the bag, legs jammed under the counter, shoulder to shoulder. Tight. But we were so excited for maple butter, nothing seemed to matter.

Service was quite efficient and friendly given how crowded the place was. We got to some people watching and food staring and gossiping and more food drooling as we pondered out menu options. However we were quick to decide and ordered both menu items which came with their famed maple butter.

Now look at these, if you couldn’t tell already, you’re staring at a trio of Wild Maine Blueberry Pancakes with a little tub of waaaarm maple buttah. Holy crap. I’ve never had pancakes this good in my life. It was so good I thought I was going to die. I really really thought I would just pass out from bliss. I took my knife and eagerly cut out a perfect triangle and watched the steam rise up. A deep dip into the melted butter and into my mouth. Have you ever burned your tongue on pancakes? Well this was a first. And it was so worth it. The pancakes were so hot that I BURNED myself. They were hot, tall, fluffy and stuffed with enough fresh plump berries to feed a hungry Kathy. The butter, which was essentially melty maple bliss soaked into every open pore of the pancake, infusing the light cake like creation with a pure maplely rich and soooo buttery taste. I looked around the room. It appeared as if I was the only one captivated by this plate of pancakes. Was there something wrong with me? Did no one else realize the magic of warm maple butter and perfect round of blueberry pancakes? I don’t know. Maybe you should come and taste it and tell my if I’m the only one who finds this insanely good.

Gah, if the pancakes weren’t good enough, the Vanilla Waffle will surely be decadent enough to steal your heart. A large crisp round, lightly scented with vanilla and topped with a fruity, just sweet enough quince compote and a fluff of whipped maple butter with walnuts. Now get this, you get maple butter in TWO forms here, the little warm melted tub and a cold version whipped into a creamy light mountain. Everything melded together in great perfection, the warm crunch of the waffle sweetened with a chunky compote and tied together with your choice of maple butter – hot, cold. Or for me, both at once! Man, I’ve never paid $15 for a waffle before, but after this one, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again :)

And cause we had a lot of sweet and starch and butter going round, Ingrid suggested a side and we settled on an order of fried green tomatoes. I love tomatoes. And I love anything friend. So. We can’t go wrong here! Back home in Hawaii I would go to the KCC farmers market on the weekends for the sole purpose of bread from Bale and an order or two of fried green tomatoes. Man, they were addicting! Clinton St’s came four to an order – two big slices and two tinier ones, I guess that evens it out. The very thin and crisp batter left no traces of oil and only the flavor of sweet and ripe tomatoes. A dash of sour cream flavored with spices brought the little disks over the top.

I told you they were good.

And that was the bestest breakfast I’ve had. Ever. Perhaps I should go brunching in the city more often. I may become quite a bit poorer, but at least I’ll be experienced. You know, cause you can justify spending unreasonable amounts of breakfast food if you claim you learned something from it (like now I know how fantastic pancakes can taste when done not only well, but exceptional!)…you know what I mean!

Clinton St. Baking Co. & Restaurant
4 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002
(646) 602-6263



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