Restaurant review – Serendipity 3

Lets face it. Sometimes you just want the extravagant. To splurge on a very one of a kind experience. Where you know the prices are a little higher, but well worth it for one reason or another. Some place where you take your friends, if nothing else to see what there reactions will be. A place where you might end up waiting 45 min to an hour, and not feel cheated by it.

Serendipity 3 in NYC is one of those places.

Serendipity 3
225 E 60th St
New York City, NY
(212) 838-3531

Serendipity isn’t for your average outing.  It has great memorable huge deserts, a quirky atmosphere and fun for all to be had.  Those are the upsides.  But with all that comes long wait times, average entrees and of course price.  Overall though, definitely something to experience if you find yourself in NYC

So you say “long wait times”
Some people might think I’m just being picky here.  Perhaps I’m not used to an average wait for popular restaurants in NYC.  I’ve been here twice so far.  Once in the summer and once in the winter, both in the late evening.  Both times we had to wait about an hour.  Seating is very limited inside and it is quite popular a locale.  Those two put together result in long wait times.  Luckily there is Dylan’s Candy Bar (pictured left) just around the corner that you can easily spend time at while you.  My suggestion is make your reservations and then spend time wandering around the candy shop while you wait.  Just remember that you are going to be eating a lot of desert in a bit.  You can make reservations ahead of time, but keep in mind that reservations are for meals only, not desserts.  So if you are planning to go just for dessert you’ll have to wait like everyone else.

Once you get inside, you are going to be amazed at all the little things you find on the walls, floor, and ceiling.  Last time I was there I realized there was a sneaker above my head.

There are two floors in the restaurant. I personally think the upstairs is less crowded, but you aren’t going to have your choice of seating.  I’ve never been there when it hasn’t been packed.  Also something to be aware of is there is only 1 set of bathrooms.  It’s on the main floor, right in the middle of all the traffic.  Something to be aware since often you’ll have to wait to get into it.

Also for the observant, you can even find a Serendipity poster hidden on the wall.  The place isn’t named for the movie, as it was founded back in 1954.  Was named Serendipity because it meant “The art of finding the pleasantly unexpected by chance or sagacity”.  Still rather neat that they hid that little gem inside.  Here is a picture of it…  have fun searching.

The Food
But you don’t come to a restaurant solely for the ambiance.  I took pictures of the very ornate menu, but they have a full, readable, menu on their website.  If you plan on going there, I strongly suggest planning your meal ahead of time as they are quite busy and if you know what you want you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle.  Plus by planning ahead you will be sure to make the $8.50 minimum per person when ordering.

On this trip we decided to try out an appetizer.  We didn’t want to fill up before the main course (that would be dessert), so we decided to get something simple and light.  We choose the Blue Corn Nachos with goat cheese ($9.50).  Unfortunately we apparently choose too well.  As you can see in the picture, there wasn’t much to the dish.  I’m used to an appetizer serving 3-4 people.  This seemed more meant for 1, maybe 2.  And at almost $10, it seems a bit over priced.  I know it’s NY, but I still expected more from it.  From what we saw around us, and from what I’ve read online, this appears to be the norm for most of the appetizers.  It was quite tasty, just… just small.  Something to be aware of if you are planning on having a huge meal, or have a number of people at the table you want to share with.

The entrees fared better, depending on what you ordered.

The Chili with Cheese Crepes ($13.50) did pretty well.  Was very filling, and was more than the person who ordered could finish on her own.  The chili had a good flavor, and not very spicy (granted I love spicy foods).

I was happy to help her out and finish the plate, mostly because my own meal wasn’t very filling at all.  I had the Bleu-Burger ($14.50).  Almost the same price but about half the food.  There wasn’t much Blue Cheese on the burger.  The burger itself was pretty average.  I finished it off with a few bites and was done.  I took what was left of the Chilli Crepe and placed it over my fires for a more filling meal.

Be careful what you order.  It’s very hit or miss depending on what you order in terms of how much you will enjoy it.  I love blue cheese burgers, but the amount of cheese almost made it seem like an after thought, than the star.

But who cares about the appetizers, or the entrees, or even the wait.  Desert is the real reason you come here.   And Serendipity 3 doesn’t disappoint.  The star of their desserts (well, for us normal people at least… more on that in a bit) is their Frozen Hot Chocolate ($8.95).  Technically it’s listed under their “Frrrozen Drinks” section, but we all know it’s really a dessert.  You’d think from the name that’d mean chocolate milk, but it’s not.  You can drink it like a slushy or use spoons and enjoy like a thick milkshake.  If you are going to only order one dessert, this is the one you want.  It easily serves 4 people.

Forbidden Broadway Sundae

Hot Chocolate

Dark Double Devil Mousse

Outrageous Banana Split

Outrageous Banana Split, Coward’s Portion

But that’s not all that they offer in terms of the extravagant desserts.  They have a full range of items for you to enjoy.  This particular trip our party enjoyed a Forbidden Broadway Sundae ($15),  Hot Chocolate ($5.50), Dark Double Devil Mousse ($8.50).  We even had the Outrageous Banana Split ($22.50)… well the Coward’s Portion ($13.50).

The sundae was overflowing with warm fudge, and thick peanut butter topping.  The overflow allowed for the fudge and peanut butter to stay nice and warm on the plate of an extra layer of enjoyment in contrast to the cooler topping on the ice cream.  It’s a large potion so look to share it among 3-4 friends.  The split was similar in size and toppings, with the full version serving 3-4, and the coward version easily split-able by 2.  The addition of a banana and the regular split toppings (nuts, pineapple) brings a classic to something  over-sized. The mousse, which people tend to either over or under do with sweetness, struck a very good balance.  The Hot Chocolate was almost like drinking a melted candy bar.

They even have a dessert that requires you to contact them 48 hours in advance for them to make.  What takes them so long to make? It’s the Golden Opulence Sundae and costs $1,000.  Yea you read that right. $1000 for a ice cream sundae. It consists of 5 scoops of Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream, covered in 23-carat edible gold leaf, rare Amedei Porcelana and Chuao chocolate, American Golden caviar (caviar?!), passion fruit, orange, Armagnac, candied fruits from Paris and marzipan cherries, then decorated with real gold dragees (I have no idea what that is).  I can’t imagine spending $1000 to eat ice cream, even if that’s what it is…

But you don’t need to stop with just your meal.  You can purchase the Serendipity 3 Frrrozen Hot Chocolate Mix Canister and make it yourself at home.  Although I’m not sure why you need to buy it, especially since they released the recipe for their 50th Anniversary.  But probably nice to have it on hand.  They also sell tons of other items in their shop you can bring home with you.

Can’t make it to the restaurant but still want to buy stuff from their store?  Just happens that they have an Amazon Store Front you can order directly from and have it shipped directly to you.

So where does that leave us?  Serendipity’s desert are delicious and huge.  Easily split-able by a few friends and a good enough reason for that alone to visit.  Granted, the minimum $8.50 per person, splitting definitely won’t get you there unless you buy something huge… perhaps an appetizer or two.

So look ahead at the menu, plan what you’d like, and whenever you happen to be in NYC near Central park be sure to stop by.   For all the hassle, the quality of the desserts, the ambiance and quirkiness of this restaurant is well worth it.

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