Chelsea Cafeteria Review


By Dane Feldman
Photo courtesy of Lindsay Barret.

Last Sunday, I was fortunate enough to dine out for brunch at Cafeteria in the Chelsea district of Manhattan for a very expensive and delicious meal. Cafeteria, open 24/7, is one of the busiest brunch spots in the area — so busy, in fact, that the restaurant doesn’t offer reservations within two and a half hours of noon for the next eight weeks. To my surprise, I only had to wait (indoors) for about 20 minutes for outdoor seating.

The Food:
Between myself and one other person, we ordered silver dollar pancakes topped with berries, an omelet with avocado and pepper jack cheese, and a side of sausage.

The pancakes were easily the best I’ve had. They were small, fluffy, light, and not too sweet. I could have easily eaten the whole platter, but thankfully for my health we split everything we ordered. The omelet was also delicious — the eggs were extremely fluffy and the ingredients we chose complemented each other well.

Usually, I find that when I order omelets they come out kind of flat or the eggs are overdone. This was not at all the case. The omelet came under a bed of greens and with a side of perfectly roasted, lightly seasoned potatoes. The sausage was meaty and juicy, which means it wasn’t overcooked by the chef like so many chefs do.

That said, the food wasn’t worth the price I paid, but more on that later.

The Drinks:
We started with one Morning Glory for each of us, which consists of prosecco, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, St. Germain, and a lemon twist. I thought this was a great brunch cocktail, like most champagne cocktails are. The elderflower in the St. Germain mixed with the grapefruit juice makes it taste light enough that it could work with breakfast while the prosecco brings about a mimosa-esque carbonation.

In speaking of mimosas, we also had one of those for each of us. The mimosas were good, but nothing special. It’s not difficult to make a good one, but I do think it’s hard to make one that stands out from others. If I go back to Cafeteria, I’ll probably stick with the Morning Glory or experiment with the other champagne cocktails.

The ambience/service:
Despite how crowded the restaurant was, the service was excellent. Our waitress was sweet, informative, helpful, and quick. She was attentive and didn’t make me feel like I was being rushed out. It wasn’t loud in the restaurant, but it was colder than I’d have liked. Even with a cardigan on, I couldn’t get comfortable enough.

My only real complaint is that I didn’t realize just how expensive Cafeteria is. With tip, the bill was $120, which is far more than I was planning to spend. I’m not even sure what would constitute as a brunch worthy of that much. The funny part about this is that we turned down unlimited brunch for $35 each elsewhere. Regardless, Cafeteria was a great experience, I just can’t frequent there as much as I’d like to.