My boss is always big on getting a good breakfast in your stomach to start the day when we work these trade shows. I'm not much on breakfast, but when it's busy and we don't have time for lunch at the trade shows, it's good to have a filling breakfast to start the day.
Even though we did have lunch each day we worked the AES convention in New York recently, we decided to have breakfast, as well. The restaurant at the Roosevelt Hotel where we stayed was nice. But it was $27.95 for the breakfast buffet, $20.95 for pancakes, and - get this - $24.95 for two eggs, hash browns, choice of meat, and toast. Uhhh... No. We'll go elsewhere. We wanted to go out and look for some of the true New York coffee shops that permeate Midtown Manhattan.
The first one we found was a place called The Red Flame on 44th St. at the Avenue of the Americas - or Sixth Ave. (see map). The Red Flame is a neat little coffee shop at street level with huge windows to allow those seated in the booths next to them a chance to do some stellar people watching while eating breakfast. It sort of reminded me of the coffee shop depicted on "Seinfeld".
We went there a couple three times while we were in New York and we got in right away. There were all different types of people in there - professionals getting food to start their day, downtown day workers getting egg sandwiches to go, tourists, etc. The service was generally quick and on top of things.
The menu is wide and varied. I tried their ham and cheese omelet and asked if they could add mushrooms to it the first time we went. The waitress - a brash New York broad (and I mean that in the most complementary way) - said, "Honey, we can put anything you want in the omelet." After we all ordered, our food was at our table in less than 10 minutes. It was literally unbelievable how quick the made to order food came out. It certainly beat the 30 minute wait we always have at the restaurant at the Loews-Denver hotel.
And the food was very good. I tried their waffles one morning and they were excellent, as well. I had the omelet the third time I was there and it was just as good as the first time. And each time, we got our food less than 10 minutes after we ordered.
So, if you're in Manhattan and want a good - and QUICK - breakfast, the Red Flame is tough to beat.
But the other place we went to - The Comfort Diner - is on par with The Red Flame.
We had a little bit of a wait when we went there on Saturday and again on the Columbus Day Monday morning. And it wasn't because of a huge crowd. The wait was because we found they don't open until 9 a.m. on weekends; but it's 7:30 thru the week. When we went back on Monday around 8:45 a.m., we had to wait for the doors to open because they didn't open until 9 for the Columbus Day holiday. But the wait was worth it.
When the doors opened the place flooded with the same type of people who went to The Red Flame. Only there seemed to be a lot more tourists on Saturday morning and again on Monday.
The decor of The Comfort Diner is very much the same of any diner you'd see in the Midwest - heavy on the vinyl booths and chairs, lots of bright pastel colors, it looks just like a typical diner.
I got the sausage, mushroom and cheese omelet both times I was there and it was outstanding both times. We ended up ordering early and our food came pretty quickly - not as quick as what we encountered at The Red Flame. Still, for a New York restaurant, I was impressed.
And as with The Red Flame, The Comfort Diner's prices were in line with what I expected to pay for breakfast in New York. I think we averaged about $11 to $13 bucks a person with juice, milk, coffee and our food. It's a helluva lot cheaper than eating at the hotel.
So, there's my two recommendations for breakfast in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. Save yourself some money by eating out for breakfast than spending all that cash for the high priced hotel breakfast spread.
(Update - The Comfort Diner reportedly closed for a time in 2010, but reopened sometime in 2011.)