A restaurant opened on third avenue?!
My parents responded incredulously when I told them that, for my final Sunday breakfast of winter break we’d be heading to the much buzzed about Runner and Stone. With pastries made by a former Bouchon/Per Se baker, I had a feeling we’d be in good hands.
And I was more than right.
We got there early, early enough that Sunday brunch service hadn’t started yet; they were only serving pastries. While some people might grumble, I rejoiced. That was all I wanted, yes! Of course, my parents like to do everything with just a bit more ahem panache. We ordered: a croissant, a pain au chocolat, an almond croissant, a half buckwheat baguette and a half regular baguette. The baguettes were served with apple and orange preserves. My father ordered a regular coffee and my mother and I split a cappuccino. Our little table in the front window was crammed with pastries, bread and caffeine. It was a glorious sight.
My father’s ideal breakfast would probably be a stack of pancakes (either blueberry or buckwheat) with a pool of maple syrup. My mother’s would be an egg with some soft, buttery white bread. And mine, well, I think you know what it would be. While this breakfast was more suited to my tastes than theirs, each of us found something we could enjoy at Runner and Stone. It was a spot more relaxing than your normal, busy cafe and more upscale than a diner.
The freshly cut baguettes steamed as we opened them. The crispy, crackly outside hid a warm, chewy inside that was perfectly risen. They didn’t lose their appealing flavor as they cooled. While I’m not a huge bread fan, this was fantastic bread. It was the kind of bread you would dream about taking home in your bike’s front basket from a Paris boulangerie. It could be a contender for the best baguette in New York. Of course, we did get there early and had one of the freshest loaves in the place, so that might have something to do with it.
The pastries, which were also served warm, were the real standouts. The croissant had the perfect slightly crunchy outside and soft inside. While I would have preferred to have a cool croissant, it would be impossible to deny that this was a fantastic croissant. It wasn’t warm because someone warmed it up, it was FRESH. The butter was evident (erm, on my hands as well…) and it wasn’t too sweet, my croissant pet peeve.
The pain au chocolat was also excellent. Unlike the croissant, it benefitted, as all pain au chocolat do, from being warm. The chocolate inside was melty and dark, adding just a hint of sweetness to the pasty without overwhelming it. I only had a bite of almond croissant and, while it was better than your average one, it was too sweet for me. My dad, who loves almond croissants, thought it was fantastic. I think you should probably trust his opinion instead of mine. The filling wasn’t your traditional, dense frangipane. Instead it looked like candied chopped almonds. It wasn’t as sweet as others I’ve tasted, but it was still more akin to dessert than to a breakfast item.
The coffee was good but not stand out. Both my parents and I preferred the filter coffee to the cappuccino, which was too milky. They have a nice espresso machine (a La Marzocco) so I’m willing to bet that it’s just a matter of time before their coffee gets pumped up a notch.
I’m glad I went to Runner and Stone before returning to Italy. When I come back in March, I’m sure that there will be a line of people stretching around the block just to get a bite of the deliciousness that Runner and Stone serves up.
Oh, and I already have summer plans to go for an aperitivo there. I’m very excited.
Do you enjoy trying restaurants that are brand-new or do you like to wait to hear reviews?