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Serendipity 3 in New York City: A Dining Review

by Sue Kulick, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 12/29/2008

Nestled on a side street in New York City, two blocks away from bustling Park Avenue and near the foot of the 59th Street Bridge lies a little slice of New York history waiting to be discovered. Serendipity 3, a funky, fun and outrageous restaurant/general store/ice cream shop beckons New Yorkers from all walks with all its delicious treasures!

Founded in 1954, the restaurant was the brainchild of three entrepreneurs - Jose Limon, Stephen Bruce and Patch Carradine. These three intrepid would-be actors were trying to break into the post-World War II world of show business, living in Little Italy and trying to come up with a future plan. They stumbled upon the word "Serendipity," pooled their fortunes to the tune of $300, and a legend was born.

Wikipedia defines "Serendipity" as "the effect by which one discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely." Serendipity 3 started out with 4 tables and 16 chairs, and quickly outgrew its surroundings. It moved around the corner from its original location on 58th Street to its current 60th Street location.

What is it about Serendipity 3 that sets it apart from other New York eateries? The food, of course! You can order anything from old-fashioned meat loaf to a turkey, brie, apple, and alfalfa sprout sandwich, aptly called "A Summer Bries." Of course, you must leave room for dessert. 

On a recent trip to Serendipity 3, we had the opportunity to sample some of the culinary delights. Our table started off with the world-famous Frrrozen Hot Chocolate. We only ordered one, but our server wisely brought extra straws and spoons for all of us to help. The Frrrozen Hot Chocolate is like decadence through a straw. A chocolate lover's delight, it is thick, rich, and sprinkled with whipped cream and the kind of chocolate crunchies usually reserved for ice cream cake. It drips over the edge and awakens every chocolate sense you have ever had!

There is a full array of menu items, from appetizers (Spudniks, Blue Corn Nachos) and soup (our table tried the Chicken-Not-So-Little) to casseroles, burgers, sandwiches and full dinners. We shared a BLT served on challah bread. The lettuce and tomato were delightful, and the bacon was divine; crisp (how I like it), and plentiful. Cutting it in half and making it into a sandwich was quite a sight! If you would like something traditional, try the shepherd's pie, or the barbecue chicken, or maybe the seafood fettuccine. If you would like something a little more adventurous, try The Garden of Allah (grilled chicken covered with chilled cucumbers, tomatoes, basil and black olives), or a caviar burger with sour cream and cucumber slices.

However, your main course is just a pathway to dessert. You can't leave Serendipity 3 without trying one of their desserts. We decided to split the Forbidden Broadway Sundae, which consisted of chocolate blackout cake, ice cream, hot fudge and whipped cream. It was probably one of the best desserts I have ever had!

If you are feeling incredibly indulgent, call ahead and order Serendipity 3's most decadent dessert. In fact, this may well be New York's most decadent dessert! I am talking about the famous "Golden Opulence Sundae," which requires 48 hour advance notice and comes with a $1,000 price tag.

To start, the sundae is served in a Baccarat Harcourt crystal goblet with an 18-carat gold spoon. The ice cream is five scoops of Tahitian vanilla bean, infused with real Madagascar vanilla. The ice cream is then covered in edible 23-carat gold leaf, and topped with rare chocolate, candied fruit flown in from Paris, a gold-covered sugar flower, and more edible gold. It is then topped with golden caviar, which we are assured is not salty and compliments the sundae's exquisite flavor. The restaurant sells about 10 of these a year. And yes, you get to keep the goblet and the spoon!

Serendipity 3 accepts and suggests reservations, as they can become quite crowded. You can find out more about them at their website, Serendipity 3.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time spent at Serendipity 3. It is an experience not to be missed by both visitors and natives to the Big Apple!

About the Author: Sue Kulick is a resident of the Pocono Mountains and an avid Disney fan. She and her husband, Steve, live in a log home with their Golden Retrievers, Cody and Belle and their cat Tigger.

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Updated 12/29/2008

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