Famous for their “frozen hot chocolate,” Serendipity is worth looking into for a late night dessert treat in the city, but not much else.
Founded in 1954, Serendipity 3 was New York’s first coffee boutique. Best known as the locality of the movie Serendipity, the restaurant is described by its three owners as “a tiny principality in the basement of a tenement.” Tucked into a corner on the Upper East Side, Serendipity 3 is indeed tiny enough to miss. Set up like a trinket shop at the front, the restaurant actually sells all sorts of items, from their one of a kind frozen hot chocolate mix to more out of place items like bride-to-be party favors.
The atmosphere is overwhelming with its extravagant decorations, including a floor-length clock and ornate chandeliers made of plastic fruits and what appears to be a collection of hundreds of pearl necklaces. The restaurant has two floors but the space still feels as though, if not cautious, tripping over the next table is a likely possibility. The first floor, with its Alice in Wonderland reminiscent embellishments, is more suited for kids. The second floor offers a more elegant scene with its grand mirrors, artwork and Victorian décor.
Overall, the restaurant elicits a certain charm, albeit an opulent one. While there, restaurant goers stand the chance of running into a celebrity, as the restaurant has been visited by Cameron Diaz, former President Bill Clinton and Beyonce. Andy Warhol even declared it “his favorite sweet shop.”
Pricing ranges from $8 omelets to $23 spiced chicken flambé. The restaurant offers an array of foods, including foot-long hot dogs, caviar burgers, country meatloaf and sautéed chicken livers. The tortellini primavera and salmon a la garden of allah are two entrees that are pretty good, but nothing to get excited about.
The most worthwhile pieces on the menu are definitely the desserts, which have attracted most of the customers. Serendipity 3 offers a wide and hearty selection of desserts such as chocolate blackout cake, cheese cake Vesuvius and a banana split that comes in a “coward’s portion.” They even serve humble pie, creamy peanut butter with a graham cracker crust. It’s the dessert section that also houses the most expensive item on the menu-the Golden Opulence Sundae for $1,000, a Guinness World Record.
The service, while not atrocious, was far from attentive and considerate. The waiter, who never introduces himself, hands over the menu and walks away. He will return in 10-15 minutes (depending how busy the restaurant is), take the order and not return again until the order is ready to be placed on the table. Need to leave early or just ready to place a dessert order? Good luck finding him.
Reservations are heavily suggested, although only a limited number are accepted. The alternative, not having reservations, means being prepared to wait. Seating for just two can take up to an hour to acquire, suggesting that visiting in large groups is all but out of the question.
On top of this, the small opening does not provide much of a place to wait, which pours the line out into the street.
Serendipity 3 is located at 225 E. 60th St. between 2nd and 3rd avenues. For more information, including the full menu, check out www.serendipity3.com