There is perhaps no better reason to wake up at a semi-respectable hour on the weekends than brunch, and perhaps no better excuse to get a head start on a sugar rush than a well-deserved serving of French toast. Between egg-soaked brioche, butter, and sugar, we’d bet even your friends who adhere to a strict Benedict brunch rule can’t help themselves from reaching across the table for a bite or five. Who can blame them? Chefs are crafting genius component change-ups these days, re-imagining everything from the batter to the butter. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, but it’s also National French Toast Day — so you might consider celebrating this weekend. Here are five spots in NYC that make a killer stack of battered bread.
PB&J Pain Perdue, Recette, 328 West 12th Street
The same entertaining prowess that fueled chef Jesse Schenker’s Recette Private Dining supper club series is applied at his West Village fixture, where he and pastry chef Christina Lee continue to create sophisticated but consistently approachable American fare. The PB&J pain perdue is no exception: Two colossal slices of custard-soaked Sullivan Street brioche are filled with creamy peanut butter and farm-fresh strawberry jam before being lightly cooked. The final touch? A tableside coating of Earl Grey milk jam, a caramelly bergamot concoction accomplished by an Earl Grey-steeping of sweet milk.
Orange Blossom French Toast, Market Table, 54 Carmine Street
Executive chef David Standridge uses his fine dining background (six years at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon) to finesse green market focused plates at this West Village locale. A closer look reveals classic American dishes that exhibit intense seasonality and pinpointed detail — even at 11am. For his take on brunch’s most talked about toast, Standridge soaks bread overnight in an egg batter with orange blossom water, bourbon, honey, and cinnamon before browning the slices in butter. For a bright addition, he tops the toast with a syrupy huckleberry sauce — but he doesn’t stop there. Almond butter, ice cream (of the diner’s choice), and toasted almonds also make an appearance.
Sugar and Plumm Crunch Toast, Sugar and Plumm, 377 Amsterdam Avenue
As an Upper West Side supplier of ice cream, macarons, and chocolates, Sugar and Plumm is nothing short of a sweet tooth sanctuary. A full-service bistro serves all-day fare, and while savory items are plentiful, sugar is in abundance — especially during brunch hours. For the Sugar and Plumm crunch toast, three battered bread sticks live up to their name in an initial bite then reveal feathery, egg-rich brioche that is topped with creamy mascarpone cheese and juicy strawberry compote.
Pan Dulce con Platanosa, El Toro Blanco, 257 Sixth Avenue
The team behind Lure Fishbar and B&B ventured north of Houston for its latest, where tables are quickly covered in crowd-pleasing and shareable Mexican plates, from a cheese and chili fondue to a duo of cactus tacos. Brunch offerings are just as worthy of multiple friends and forks: The pan dulce con platanosa, a fluffy baked brioche, serves as a pillow for house-made spiced coffee syrup and a texturally ranging trio of raisins, bananas, and pecans.
Pandoro French Toast with Strawberries and Orange Honey, Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina, 75 Ninth Avenue (Chelsea Market)
Pandoro, Verona’s sweet yeast bread, makes its way to the brunch menu at this Chelsea Market cucina. The loaf’s eight-pointed star shape is topped with strawberries, orange honey, and a dusting of powdered sugar to resemble the snowy peaks of the Italian Alps in the winter. ‘Tis the season for this toast: It’s traditional in Italy to reach for pandoro around Christmas and New Year’s — timing that, as we enter December, we’re very much OK with.