Special Dispatch: Sylvia's, New York
328 Lenox Avenue
New York, NY 10027
(+1) (212) 996-0660
by Megan Bacon
“Ladies and gentleman!” yells a waiter at the front of a steadily forming queue. “Prepare yourselves for the best breakfast of your lives!”
To be quite honest, I’m not really hungry. In fact, I’ve already had breakfast today, having woken up unreasonably early to fulfil my duties as a tourist. But for Sylvia’s, I’ll make an exception. Every Sunday, Sylvia Woods' 45-year-old Harlem establishment serves up a soul food ’n’ gospel breakfast to a mixture of New Yorkers, out-of-towners and foreign tourists.
I go for the full monty: fried chicken, scrambled eggs and grits – the latter which, like so much else in New York, I’ve only ever seen in the movies. Turns out, they’re damn fine – like a salty, buttery porridge. The chicken is a no-holds-barred full-fat delight, with gently crisped and seasoned skin, and the scrambled eggs are just right. A dab of Sylvia’s hot sauce and I’m ready to go – my non-hunger is immediately forgotten.
We move on to the dessert menu. (Dessert for breakfast! I truly have died and gone to heaven). Now this is where Sylvia’s really excels itself. The world famous Red Velvet cake is exactly as it sounds: a sandwich of bright red cake and velvety icing, while the banana pudding is nothing less than an orgasm on a plate. We finish off with bloody marys.
Did I mention that people are singing gospel songs throughout all of this? Well, they are – while shouting out where each table of diners is from (“Sweden’s in the house, y’all!”). Sylvia herself joins them for a boogie. But is this the best breakfast of my entire life? Well, the service is impeccable and friendly. The food is delicious, hangover-curing, filling and fattening. And by the time we leave, the whole restaurant has erupted into a party. If there’s a better breakfast on earth, I’d like to hear of it.