By Kathryn Matthews
On this bright, freezing cold Monday morning, I was at Triomphe in the Iroquois New York Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel (across from the Royalton) on West 44th Street, for one reason only:
The Waffled French Toast with Foie Gras.
Chef Steven Zobel recently revamped Triomphe’s breakfast menu . The 2.0 version features dishes that range from decadent—buttermilk pancakes with praline butter,($18); eggs benedict with fried oysters, ham, spinach and hollandaise ($21); bagels and lox ($20)—to austere, like toast ($4) or Greek yogurt and fruit ($10).
But I had a one-track mind.
I had dragged along my friend Michael, a former magazine editor and writer, and, frankly, a bit of a breakfast curmudgeon. “Can’t stomach breakfast before 11am. Don’t be offended if I just have a poached egg,” he warned me.
Arriving at 10am, we had missed the power breakfast rush (7am-8:15am) and had the place virtually to ourselves.
It’s a lovely, intimate space. Designed by Ilan Waisbrod of Studio Gai in Chelsea, the room features a domed ceiling ringed by white moldings, walnut floors, oversized mirrors and a gentle backlit display of hand-blown glass above a sienna banquette. It may also be one of the last restaurants in town using white tablecloths. But I like that. A lot.
All the better to enjoy the main event.
I ordered an espresso and the you-know-what. Michael ditched his poached eggs for the truffled chicken salad sandwich (my second choice) instead.
We were surprised when our server (unobtrusive and obliging) placed an amuse-bouche before us: a dollop of ricotta garnished with pistachios and house-made prune jam. Not necessary, but nice.
Zobel’s version of French toast, uses Challah, which is waffled, topped with poached pears, strawberries and blackberries, then crowned with a thin sliver of foie gras. Dabs of chestnut jam (on the Challah) add another subtle dimension of sweetness. It was the most delicate-tasting “French toast” I’ve ever had, a perfect balance of sweet and savory. I ate it all. It left me feeling happily satisfied, but not stuffed.
Michael’s truffled chicken salad sandwich was a tasty upscale country club take on a familiar classic. It arrived—a perky fluff of chopped chicken (all-natural Murray’s, I learned), finely minced celery and onion (first blanched to remove its bite), folded with house-made mayonnaise and truffle oil–compressed between two slices of seven grain bread, tomato and lettuce. Served with potato chips, its somewhat bland familiarity was oddly comforting.
We’d gotten off to a very civilized start of the day.
One that makes breakfast—in the right place at the right time—a worthwhile outing.