After a night of drinking, my friends and I needed some filling, not-fancy grub. Weeks before, I’d been to the Big Daddy’s in Gramercy Park just for a giant strawberry daiquiri after dinner and had been interested in basically the entire menu, so I led the way to the retro diner for some of the heartiest breakfast foods around.
My friends ordered things like pancakes dripping with melted chocolate chunks and omelettes practically exploding with meats and cheeses, but I went for the biggest, nastiest, kitchen-sinkiest thing on the menu: the Bow Wow Wow.
It’s a buttery waffle sandwich filled inches-high with a slab of scrambled eggs, American cheese, Canadian bacon, and hash browns. For the person who’s drawn to sweet breakfast items but never quite gets the satisfaction of savory items from them, like me, this is the perfect compromise: there’s all the cheesy saltiness of the filling, but there’s always the syrupy sweetness of the waffle. And a side of tater tots to boot. The waffle was super-crunchy on the outside but doughy on the inside, just the way I like it, and the sandwich was so stuffed and stuffing I had to eat it with a knife and fork and take half of it home (and you know I like that, too).
Everyone else ordered shakes to accompany their meals to overwhelmingly positive reviews, but I had to get the frozen hot chocolate to see how it compares to Serendipity 3‘s (the most famous in the city) and Dairy Queen’s (my personal favorite). Nothing will ever compare to the thick, rich, ice-creamy version that DQ does, but the Big Daddy’s version was eerily similar to that of Serendipity.
Which is to say not that impressive. I always expect the milkiness of my mom’s homemade hot chocolate with ice and ice cream blended in, but it’s like some terrible mom used a packaged hot chocolate mix in some water and just added ice. It’s thin and watery and wimpy. But it tastes good, I’ll admit. I just need to remember to ask for a scoop of vanilla on top. And probably some peanut butter, too. Also marshmallows.
Big Daddy’s is my kind of diner. It’s open 24 hours, it’s big enough to seat a party of eight with no problem, and it’s not the usual drab neighborhood joint you only frequent because it’s convenient; not only is the food so comforting it’s worth going out of the way for, but the decor is something you only find in places owned by Branded Restaurants (the folks behind City Crab and Duke’s, another favourite of mine for really over-the-top, fattening stuff); it looks like a 1950s kitchen, but the walls are covered in giant logos for Atari and PanAm and Kool-Aid, displays of throwback products from my childhood, and framed photographs of TV stars too bygone for me to recognize. It’s worth a visit, drunk at midnight or otherwise.
239 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003 (map)