When two fine-dining vets open a breakfast restaurant, and that restaurant has a foie gras “pop tart” on the menu, it serves that said pop tart would be a symbol, an edible representation of the restaurant’s attempt to bring a fine-dining touch to bacon and eggs. That is the one and only reason I ordered the thing. I figured that, as disgusting as such a creation sounded, Gregory Ellis and Steven Fladung (who met at Trotter’s) would probably be able to pull it off.
Nope. In this pop tart I found an unsettling undercurrent of meatiness. The cherries couldn’t save it. Neither could the crunchy, cookielike shell. The flavor of liver infected everything.
I will admit to losing some faith in 2Sparrows in that moment. And not just in 2Sparrows, but in the idea of a fine-dining breakfast. Even the fanciest hotels avoid foie gras in the morning, and now I knew why: That pop tart was the first thing I’d eaten all day, and I spent the rest of the meal trying to get the taste out of my mouth. Perhaps the richest elements of fine dining are relegated to dinner for a reason. You can eat the stuff and then immediately go to sleep.
In this post–pop tart downward spiral, I decided that if I was going to enjoy 2Sparrows, I’d have to play it safe. Which is exactly what I did. I ordered a football-shaped honey-lemon doughnut with a satisfying, crisp crust and tart lemon-custard filling. I dug into a slice of mushroom-leek quiche with all the featherlight qualities of an expertly made souffle. I ate a half-successful (read: fluffy, not flaky) biscuit.
Later, I visited the pleasant, welcoming room for lunch, where I encountered serviceable sandwiches (a salmon BLT that could barely contain the filet of fish, a Cubano that perhaps took too many liberties with the copious amount of pork and blunted pickles) and an enormous bowl of warm Israeli couscous, subtly seasoned and tossed with squash. Eventually I even tried another pop tart. This one had a flaky crust and was filled with soft pears; it was pleasant if not particularly exciting.
Then, because I was feeling encouraged, I asked my server about the ramen-and-pork-belly noodle bowl (clearly listed on the breakfast side of the menu).
“How spicy is it?”
“Not spicy enough for me,” he said. “But spicy enough for most.”
“Is it good?”
He looked stumped.
“I haven’t had it,” he eventually said.
Which was a confusing answer, because clearly he had eaten the noodles (how else would he know about the spice level?). What I realized later, as I poured salt and pepper into the noodles in an effort to wake up the benign broth, was that he didn’t want to say anything bad about the noodles, and thus didn’t say anything at all.
I wish he had. Or I wish the noodles had been better. Or I wish I had just stuck with the doughnut, or ordered the quiche again, because the fringe dishes (foie, noodles) at 2Sparrows aren’t going to cut it.
By David Tamarkin