During my most recent visit to New York City leisurely breakfasts were not quite as leisurely as usual; with the conference beginning by 8:00am each day the ideal would be a place that was either grab and go or a spot that opened by 7:00am where I could be in and out within forty minutes, the later a descriptor I was assured fit “Ca Va Brasserie by Todd English” when I inquired via E-mail. Bearing in mind the mixed reviews and English’s every growing empire I decided to give it a chance – the menu looked interesting and my prior experience with English at P.U.B. in Las Vegas was a good one despite some sloppy. With a table for one booked at 7:00am and an early wakeup call to make it to the gym for a long run prior to the cross town trek the agenda was set.
Navigating a particularly windy Monday morning and arriving at the expansive Broadway Theater District location at 6:50am I was pleased to find the doors open and even happier that they were ready to seat me at such an early time. Having already had coffee at my hotel prior to the walk and with my order already known I asked the server if it would be possible to simply place my order before looking at the menu and my order was indulged without delay. Sitting solo and browsing a complimentary copy of the Times from the lobby I must admit I was somewhat underwhelmed by the non-descript room of wooden tables and brown chairs – impersonal as it was, however, the French theme pop music playing overhead was innocuous and the servers all smiles.
Having originally Okayed the team to bring both my appetizer and my main course simultaneously for timing purposes it would be just shy of 7:15 when my order would arrive. Beginning first with the appetizer – one of my very favorite things served in a particularly clever manner. Titled TOASTED CROQUE MADAME ‘FINGERS’ soft cooked egg, country ham, gruyère, and mornay sauce this was nearly a course from my childhood all grown up. Always the kid who preferred my eggs “sunny side up” so I could dip my toast in the yolk this take on the classic croquet madame was just that – a buttery golden brioche sandwich of country ham and gruyere with a poached egg and mornay sauce in a jar made for dipping. Creamy, crunchy, savory, and piping hot this was one of the better croques I’ve had in New York and though the portion to price ratio was a bit skewed to the later the quality justified the expense.
For my “main course” of breakfast, BRIOCHE FRENCH TOAST with caramelized bananas, nutella drizzle, graham crumble, and fresh fruit was the order of the morning and again this was a top notch dish. Two thick slices cooked to a golden tan on the exterior and nearly custard within the French Toast itself was exactly the sort I like while the accoutrements were all superior for late March. Particularly lovely were the nearly ping-pong ball sized raspberries and the crunchy bruleed bananas. Served with Bonne maman honey and local Wood homestead pure maple syrup I certainly sweetened the deal, but in reality the dish was plenty sweet even before dressing it up
With the check requested at the time my plates were delivered I will note that the servers visited me more than once as I ate to make sure all was well and to refill my water. With my credit card given early on the check was paid by the time I finished and by the time plates were collected my tip was added and I was ready to go – the time was 7:39. Bidding my server farewell and returning the Times to the rack I made my way out the door and was in my seat at The Hilton by 7:55 sated, happy, and ready to…wait since the first speaker of the morning had apparently not received such efficient service wherever he was that morning.