Pay attention, you pancake lovers. Do I have a spot for you!
Clinton Street Baking Company started as a small, humble restaurant in the Lower East Side, a place where neighborhood folk would come and relax with muffins and coffee. Today, you’ll see a line stretched out the front of people waiting to get a bite of the best pancakes in the city. That’s right. I didn’t say “some of the best pancakes in the city.” THE best.
The wait here is such a part of the experience that they have an entire page devoted to it on the restaurant’s website. Here are some of the key things you need to know:
- No reservations during the day.
- During weekend brunch, they only accommodate parties of 6 or less.
- Give them your name and number, and you’ll get a text when your table is ready.
- To avoid a wait, they recommend arriving at 8:30 AM to be in the first seating at 9 AM.
As you might suspect, brunch is really when the masses flock to Clinton Street. The first time I tried to eat brunch here, I mistakenly went at 3 PM thinking everything would be gravy. My friends and I walked up and saw that there was no one waiting outside, but turns out that’s because they weren’t accepting any more people for the day since there were so many people waiting already. This time I was not going to be turned away. My friend and I got there at bright and early at 8:30 as recommended, were second in line, and got in the first seating. What’s being a little tired in the morning if it means you can get some good food and then go home and nap the rest of the day away?
Clinton St. Baking Company has a daytime menu available 7 days a week. It’s all homey, comfort food like the Buttermilk Biscuit Sandwich with scrambled eggs, cheddar, tomato jam, and hash browns; Brioche French Toast with caramelized bananas, roasted pecans, and warm maple butter; and Fried Chicken & Waffles with honey-tabasco sauce and a crispy Belgian vanilla buttermilk waffle. Plus there are tons of sides like grilled chorizo, fried green tomatoes, and sweet potato fries. They have a separate dinner menu that includes some of the breakfast favorites, as well as other entrees such as burgers, spicy shrimp and cheese grits, and a seafood po’boy.
What you really should focus on, and what a majority of the people around you are probably going to be eating, are the pancakes. They come in three different flavors–wild Maine blueberry, banana walnut, and chocolate chunk–and all of them are served with their rich warm maple butter.
Breakfast is always a battle between sweet and savory, and rather than trying to decide between the two, I did what I do best–got both! I ordered the blueberry pancakes with a side of sugar cured bacon, one of their other most popular breakfast items. P.S. You gotta love a place that has multiple bacon options–the other was double smoked bacon.
Guys. I was so so so excited for my pancakes. I kept looking around to see who would get the first batch and what they would look like. Me in a hyped up restaurant = a little kid in a candy store. Were they really going to be all that? I was more than ready to find out.
At last, we received our food and placed in front of me was the most beautiful plate of breakfast. A stack of imperfect, golden brown pancakes, a beautiful dollop of deep purple, blueberry compote, powdered sugar flecked on top, and that thick, syrupy maple butter on the side. Oh, and a generous plate of thickly-cut, glistening bacon on the side. Enough talk. Time to dig in!
It was true. Everything I heard was TRUE! These were the most delicious pancakes I’ve ever had. Fluffy and flavorful–the perfect texture with the perfect taste. And the maple butter took things to a whole other level. This is the kind of stuff that gives people food comas. A bite of sweet pancakes here, and munching on some crispy, absolutely fantastic bacon there. I was in food heaven and completely, totally stuffed. I’m not kidding that we immediately went back to my apartment afterwards and passed out. And we did so with smiles on our faces and happy, full tummies.
To me, the real kicker was that the couple sitting at the table next to us were speaking a different language and had a New York tourism book. In my mind, that says a lot that someone from a different country actively decided this was the place they were going to eat at while on their vacation. Also, props to them for being in the know about what one of the trendiest breakfast/brunch places in a foreign city is.
Some final things: The restaurant is cash only so come prepared. Monday through Wednesday they do a beer and burger deal for $15. And on Monday and Tuesday nights all bottles of wine are 1/2 price. I’m sure their other food is tasty and all, but I can vouch for the fact that the pancakes are where it’s at. And they’re offered in the dinner menu so none of that talk that you don’t want to wake up and wait in line for them. Morning, noon, and night, those pancakes are there waiting to blow your mind at Clinton Street Baking Company and Restaurant.
Wild Maine blueberry pancakes with warm maple butter, sugar cured bacon
4 Clinton St
New York, NY 10002