Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Big Apple Bites: Petrie Court Cafe

How in the world did we end up hungry at a museum? It's an amateur mistake. With a gazillion restaurants in New York City, the last on my wish list would be one located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  But there we were, Hubmeister the Museum Freak and myself, hungry at 2 p.m. in a phenomenal museum, the fantastic bagels we savored that morning having faded into a happy memory.

As bad luck would have it, the Zagat-rated museum restaurant with the great view of the city, the Roof Garden Cafe, was closed due to the over-100-degree temperature, which left us with the choice of the cafeteria or the Petrie Court Cafe.  We picked the latter.

Floor-to-ceiling windows (right) provide a clear view of Central Park.

Petrie Court reminded me of an enormous, upscale hotel ballroom.  The clanking of dishes, waiters rushing about.  It's certainly nothing to write home about in the looks department, unless you are partial to monochromatic color schemes.  It is bright and airy, thanks to the great wall of windows overlooking Central Park.  Other than that, meh.  No warmth.  Lots of white and very museum-y.  Some people might like it, but it's not my thing, and we didn't have the benefit of window seating.

Capitalizing on its captive and hungry audience, this place zaps its clientele's wallets for the meals.  A Croque Monsieur is around $18.  Looked good.  I saw a lot of them go by.  But is a ham and cheese sandwich worth $18?  Yeah, I know.  It's New York.  Whatever. 

Immersed in this haughty atmosphere, I adopted the "When in Rome" mindset and ordered Traditional High Tea ($24).  

At High Tea, I had high hopes for the scones (top).  Read on.

The cinnamon spice tea was very nice; the little sandwiches - egg salad, a mini-croque monsieur (missing from photo because I grabbed that first), cucumber, and chicken salad (I think, I can't remember) - were fine bites, as were the dessert petits fours and raspberry tartlet.  The poppy seed cake stood out in flavor and texture.  I could have consumed a very large piece.

So much for the positive.  The rolls before the meal were terrible.  I had never seen people salt their bread   until this day, when I witnessed two patrons nearby take the salt shaker and do just that.  I was amazed when I saw the first person do it and astounded by the second.  This city is loaded with some of the best bakeries on the planet, so Petrie Court has no excuse for serving dry, stale-tasting rolls.  To make matters worse, the butter was served almost frozen, which prompted me to thaw the paper-wrapped pats under my hot tea cup to make it the least bit spreadable.  Yup, reminded me of hotel conference food.

Here's the topper, not only on my list of criticisms but also on my tea presentation:  the scones.  If you read my blog, you know I am a biscuit nut.  I make them.  I eat them.  I am obsessed with them.  Seeing the pretty scones perched atop the tea service at other tables cinched my order for traditional tea.  I was in New York City and I figured these scones had to be good.  These were not scones.  These were an embarrassment.  I can't even describe to you my disappointment, except to tell you that I started laughing as I tried to cut one in half and this is what happened:

To call them hockey pucks would be complimentary.

Hubmeister was still hungry after scarfing his entree salad topped with chicken, so he actually ate the scone fragments that exploded across the table. That should also tell you something about portion size. 

FYI - The bill was $71 (including tax and tip) for the tea service, a salad and a beer.  For that price,  I expect an exceptional lunch.  It was not.  We should have checked out the food trucks outside the museum and grabbed a quick bite on the steps.

Verdict:  Tourist trap.  Never travel without protein bars.

Petrie Court Cafe and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. the food at MoMA, though, is good. Very pricey and museum-y too, but the quality is present. I've had a few nice soups and bread. But the portions are very french... :(
    You're absolutely right, it is better to grab a hotdog and then go back in