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I love Steely Dan, I really do, but after waiting an hour at Sadelle’s (463 West Broadway; 212-776-4926) only to discover that our “table” was in fact two seats at the end of a large communal deal, sandwiching us between the to-go counter and Jonathan Cheban, the dude from Keeping Up With the Kardashians, I was not enjoying the sounds of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen as I normally would. Granted, it was 11 a.m. and we had decided to try the place on its first weekend open.
To be honest, I’m not a big fan of brunch. To be even more honest, I’m not a fan of people who like “to brunch.” For me, the best brunch is the style served at Barney Greengrass, Sable’s, and, more recently, Russ & Daughters Café. It should be an easy affair, brunch. There’s no need for bottomless mimosas and endless banana-tinis. All you really need are some bagels, a few eggs with onions, orange juice, and coffee. And yes, maybe some pickles and the Sunday Times. When I heard that the Major Food Group (Carbone, Dirty French, Santina) was opening its take on a Jewish deli, I got excited, for just as Russ & Daughters proved with its café, an old tradition can be new again, and has room to evolve.
With its three-tiered seating sections, bare brick walks, and Ace Hotel–like nostalgic lighting, Sadelle’s dining area feels like a Miami-meets-Soho version of a New York appetizing store. It’s a scene. The menu is clad in turquoise-blue lizard skin, its two pages listing items that update the classics with some very, very pricey options. It’s no secret that Major Food Group’s other rooms are packed every night, apparently with a clientele that doesn’t need to look at prices. But at Sadelle’s, they just might.
Long story short, the food is OK at Sadelle’s. Again, it was the first week. But charging $10 for half a grapefruit seems more Saint-Tropez than Soho. We tried the classic egg sandwich, consisting of two eggs, Muenster cheese, and bacon on two slices of bread with ketchup. At $17, it was good, but certainly no better than the $3 special at any bodega any day of the week. As a side, the pickle plate just wasn’t happening — two regular-size pickles plus a mini one for $6. They tasted bland, like an afterthought, not what you expect to find at an appetizing store in NYC. At Russ & Daughters, for about the same price, you get a wonderful selection of pickled carrots, tomatoes, and half and whole sours.
Farther down the menu, the chopped liver with house-made bread was fine, but was more chicken liver pâté with schmaltz on top than the moussey and slightly sweet versions found elsewhere. The LEO eggs, with caramelized onions and smoked salmon, was a beautiful plate and the best thing we ordered, but the eggs were cold upon arrival.
On to the bagels: On my first visit, Sadelle’s had only a limited selection of Melissa Weller’s creations, and after ordering one, it failed to make it to the table. We asked again, but still, our bagel never made an appearance. A few days later, I finally did get to enjoy the much discussed Everything 2.0 bagel, topped with dehydrated garlic, salt, and fennel, caraway, poppy, and sesame seeds — good, but nothing to wait in a long line for.
I’ll probably give Sadelle’s another try in a few months, to give their creative team some time to smooth out the kinks, and truly hope someone else is paying.