Serendipity 3 is probably the tourist destination in NYC when it comes to dining, and you would think the sometimes three-hour waits would keep people who actually live here away, but . . .
Okay, actually, I don’t think anyone who lives here does go there. BUT! I love it. Its two floors are filled with the oddest vintage lamps, clocks, mirrors, paintings, and bric-a-brac, none of which matches and all of which is tacky. In December, they have a neon pink Christmas tree and lighted snowflakes as big as you are covering the walls. It’d be offensive if it wasn’t so charming.
The menu is extensive, covering everything from pastas to crepes to hot dogs to the most inventive sandwiches. When I started visiting in 2005, I would always get the Summer Bries, which is smoked turkey, sliced apples, melted brie, and alfalfa sprouts, served on raisin pumpernickel with Russian dressing. Then I started trying different things on the menu: the Chicken Pot Pie (delicious, with giant hunks of white-meat chicken), The Alamo (a spicy black bean burger that was good but looked and tasted exactly like the Morningstar Farms version you can buy in your freezer section), the Chicken Salad Sandwich (great ingredients but not NEARLY enough mayonnaise).
For the past couple of years, though, there’s only one thing I’ll order: the Young Chicken Sandwich, an open-face concoction of chicken chunks crisply sautéed in butter with almonds, served on toasted Irish Soda Bread with greens. The butter practically drips off the chicken and soaks the soda bread, which is so delicious I’d eat it as a meal on its own. The crunchiness of the chicken and almonds contrasts so well with the soft bread, and although it comes with this vinegar-based curry sauce, I always request Russian dressing instead. And you should, too.
The whole reason for going to Serendipity, though, is the desserts. Now, the restaurant is famous for its Frozen Hot Chocolate, but let me tell you a secret: it’s not that good. It’s cold and chocolately as a frozen hot chocolate should be, but it’s extremely thin, like chocolate powder added to cold water. I want to be able to eat my desserts with a spoon, and this can be sipped from a straw and finished in ten seconds.
(You know what’s a lot better? The Frozen Hot Chocolate from Dairy Queen. No joke. It’s mixed with thick vanilla soft serve, and the chocolate sauce they add to it clings to the side of the cup for you to scrape off at the end. Plus, it’s about $6 cheaper than the Serendipity version. Unfortunately, it only seems to be available in the Midwest, which is why I make trips home to see my family in Ohio 6 to 8 times a year.)
Instead, I enjoy Serendipity’s sundaes, which are a meal in themselves at $15 but are weeeeeeeeeeeeell worth it and can be split amongst five people. The Can’t Say No Sundae with peanut butter pie, vanilla ice cream, bananas, hot fudge, and whipped cream is my favourite, but really, the Three Scoops of Ice Cream of your choice with one topping is just as impressive:
No matter what you order, half of it will fall off out of the sundae glass and onto the dish below. Do not be inhibited. Dig in.
225 East 60th Street
New York, NY 10022 (map)