Clinton St. Baking Company
4 Clinton St
(between Avenue B & Houston St)
New York, NY 10002
I’ve already briefly reviewed this place and like most people who have tried this place, I raved about it. I’d like to caveat that the last time I visited Clinton St. Baking Company, I had more or less just moved to NYC and had yet to try the myriad of brunch places around. And gollyyyyyy does NYC have a LOT of brunch places. This time around, CSBC was not so yummy, particularly compared to a place like Prune. Also, if you plan on checking out CSBC on a weekend, be prepared to wait 2 hours. I would say that is the standard… I’ve been told that some have waited even longer during peak hours, which are from 10-2pm. I recently went again on a weekday with a few out-of-towners* and only had to wait about 45 minutes…
They are most well-known for their pancakes, and I’d have to say, they probably do have some of the best pancakes in the city.
They are fluffy and thick (not the crepe-like kind) and have that nice glazed exterior from a heavily buttered pan. Don’t be fooled by the syrupy looking blueberries… They taste very fresh and are not too sweet at all. For those of us with a stronger sweet tooth, the pancakes are served with a warm maple butter that is seriously delicious. I don’t even like pancakes that much but felt that these were worth ordering and probably the only thing worth ordering. We were all savory-dish types so we ordered the pancakes to share – something I would definitely suggest as I could never eat an entire order.
Pictured here is the Buttermilk Biscuit Sandwich which I loved the first time and second time I came here. The third time, which was after having tried a bunch of delicious brunch places, I felt that the sandwich was lacking. Either they messed up on a non-busy weekday, or I just learned what real really good brunch tastes like… OR the kitchen is just not as good anymore. The biscuit was so crumbly (aka. dry) that it made eating the eggs sandwiched impossible. The whole affair ended up involving a lot of scooping and man handling. The homemade tomato jam plopped on one side of the biscuit was still damn good – not overly sweet or sour, just tomato tasting. I always love real ketchup.
The eggs were a disappointment. They tasted like how it looks in this photograph… firm as if they were cooked a while ago and had grown a hard crust. The cheddar cheese, a lot of it, was just plopped on top and had also hardened. The eggs were bland, not soft, but fluffy at the same time… they kind of reminded me of United Airlines’ cheese omelets on those international flights. Fluffy and hard? How does that even happen? I didn’t get the candied bacon to go with my sandwich this time though I definitely should have. Bacon makes the world go round-er and the added salt would have been appreciated.
Anddddd the hashbrowns. These were my favorite part of the dish because they were so perfectly crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and sprinkled with large crystallites of salt and scallions. This time coming, however, they were not crisp at all, just all mushy. The individual slivers of potato had been butchered and turned into a glop of gloop. Again, they didn’t put enough salt so I felt like i was just eating mashed potatoes sans salt. Sigh. I was very sad. One of my favorite sandwiches just lost it and now I will need to find a replacement.
Luckily I was in good company and had those pancakes to feed on. Was it because I wasn’t ravenous after only a 45 minute wait? Maybe that’s how they get you… you’re forced to starve for 2 hours and then they smile at you and feed you mediocre food… making them seem godly.
*is it just me or do out-of-towners always request to eat here? CSBC has some seriously great PR because I swear… everyone has heard of them and of their pancakes. Good job.