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French toast: Five great riffs on a brunch classic in NYC

Whether you want French toast with challah bread, brioche, sourdough or a version with panettone, we have the right sweet brunch dish for you.

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

PB&J pain perdu at Recette

Photograph: Alex Strada

Panettone French toast at Saint Austere


Joseph Leonard

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Sourdough French toast with roasted cinnamon-apple butter at North End Grill

These superior versions of French toast may use a variety of bread, but they’re all uniquely, sweetly delicious brunch plates.


Chef Jesse Schenker tinkers with the classic for his PB&J pain perdu. His pillowy treat features a three-inch-thick wedge of Sullivan Street brioche stuffed with a swirl of creamy peanut butter and grape jam. He serves the fried confection in a pool of sweetened condensed milk laced with Earl Grey tea, plus a cluster of sugar-dusted berries arranged on top. $12.

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West Village

Kutsher’s Tribeca

Critics' pick

Certain hard-line brunchers will tell you that challah is as essential to French toast as rye bread is to a pastrami sandwich. Skeptics may be persuaded by the version at Kutsher’s. Hefty slices of light and eggy challah arrive topped with a mix of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, a sprinkling of powdered sugar and a dollop of whipped cream. Amp up the sweetness with the maple syrup and tangy berry compote that’s served alongside. $16.

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The Saint Austere

Swapping out traditional bread for a hunk of panettone—a sweet Italian loaf studded with candied citrus peel and raisins, usually served at Christmas—gives this adaptation a cottony, ethereal texture. Chef Gary Comstock rounds out the sugary toast with a few savory touches: cayenne-spiced pecan butter and crunchy bits of fried prosciutto. $10.

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Lower East Side

Joseph Leonard

Critics' pick

Two custardy slabs of egg-battered brioche are bookended by a generous smear of Nutella underneath and coins of sliced banana on top. A flurry of powdered sugar and a dousing of floral honey finish the whole gently crisped package. $13.

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West Village

North End Grill

Critics' pick

A two-inch-thick piece of Sullivan Street sourdough is the humble canvas for this simple and satisfying French toast revision. Chef Floyd Cardoz advances the classic with the addition of his house-made roasted cinnamon-apple butter—a rich and fragrant spread stuffed into the center of each golden slice. $17.

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Battery Park City