Clinton Street Baking Company: Deserves a Second Chance
In Dubai we get excited, hopping-crazy-have-to-try-it-this-minute excited every time we have an import of one of the ‘popular’, ‘world class’, ‘best ever’ American eateries. The most recent one to open its doors in Dubai is the Clinton Street Baking Company, considered by New Yorkers as an institution who have affectionately nick-named it the ‘King of Brunch’.
Clinton Street Baking Company was launched in 2001 by husband and wife team, Neil Kleinberg and DeDe Lahman, who pride themselves on using fresh ingredients. Dubai will be the third branch of the bakery-come-restaurant, following a recent launch in Tokyo.
I have to at the outset be honest, I have never eaten at the New York eatery (a distant possibility since I have never been to America) and hence do not have anything to compare it with. I had heard mixed reviews about the Dubai outlet – some gushing about how ‘world-class’ the pancakes are to some coming away disappointed. So I thought, why not, I go and see for myself.
First off, parking is a nightmare. Give yourself at least 15 mins head-start (and I am being optimistic here) on finding a parking spot or better still, let one of your friends go and put your name down on the wait list while you drive around in circles looking for parking.
Globally Clinton has a no reservation policy during the day (even if you are famous, or related to us by blood – this is what I came across on their website) so it’s a first-come-first serve policy so please be willing to be patient. We were lucky we were only 2 of us, and were seated immediately near the door – not the most relaxing place to be seated considering from then on we had the door open and close every 3 seconds with people coming in to put their names down on the waiting list – this went on for the entire time we were there.
The restaurant is filled with American style leather booths, in Clinton Street signature green and exposed New York style brickwork. One of the main focal points in the restaurant is the open window into the kitchen – allowing guests to admire the cooking up of the world famous dishes. I liked the blackboard touch over the kitchen that listed specials and desserts.
Now for someone who is visiting this place merely on hearsay, the menu confused me a bit. What should I order, the pancakeswhich are ‘world-class’ or the signature dish Clinton is renowned for – Fried Chicken and Waffles? Oh my poor mind was in a tizzy. I settled for the unusual combination of sweet and salty Fried Chicken and Waffles (AED 82: Crispy Belgian vanilla buttermilk waffle with honey-tabasco and their signature warm maple butter accompanied by Fried Chicken). My eating companion went a safer route and ordered a more traditional sounding Country Breakfast (AED 76: Three eggs any style, chicken apple sausage, herb roasted tomatoes, hash browns and buttermilk biscuit). Our drinks were Hot Chocolate (AED 20) and a Coffee Shake (AED 32).Clinton is renowned for – Fried Chicken and Waffles? Oh my poor mind was in a tizzy. I settled for the unusual combination of sweet and salty Fried Chicken and Waffles (AED 82: Crispy Belgian vanilla buttermilk waffle with honey-tabasco and their signature warm maple butter accompanied by Fried Chicken). My eating companion went a safer route and ordered a more traditional sounding Country Breakfast (AED 76: Three eggs any style, chicken apple sausage, herb roasted tomatoes, hash browns and buttermilk biscuit). Our drinks were Hot Chocolate (AED 20) and a Coffee Shake (AED 32).
The Hot Chocolate and Coffee Shake arrived quite quickly and after that we waited … and waited… finished our drinks… then waited some more. Ordered water which took about 15 mins to arrive and then we waited some more … finally we had a server who approached us (I just wish he had come earlier and shared the situation – I might have been less agitated, angry, disappointed….), apologized about the delay, told us the kitchen was doing the best it could but was overwhelmed and we would have our food in a few minutes.
Well, from ordering to it arriving on at our table, the food took over 45 minutes (the reason I say over is, after 45 mins I stopped counting). I interpreted this delay as a result of the kitchen not equipped to have so many people come in constantly – it’s an endless stream of people walking in, sitting down, ordering, eating, ordering some more, eating……
So was the wait worth it you ask! Well honestly, by the time the food had arrived, I had lost my excitement and appetite. But we still gave the food a shot.
My Fried Chicken and Vanilla-Buttermilk Waffles with honey-Tabasco doused in their maple butter sauce was a revelation initially – more with regards to the combination of sweet and salty/fried, but towards the end it did not feel very special or tasty even though I tried to add some more honey tabasco to give it some flavour.
The portions at Clinton Street Baking Company are generous, so unlike us, feel free to share! Might give you a chance to experience and experiment more with their menu.
So will we head back? I honestly don’t think we will. But we may just have to, to try those ‘world famous’ pancakes.
Location: Clinton Street Baking Company, Burj Views, Downtown, Dubai. Timing: Open everyday: Mon – Thu: 8am – 4pm, 6pm – 11pm; Fri – Sat: 8am – 4pm; Sun: 8am – 4pm, 6pm -11pm Tel: +971 4 428 1331. Website: http://clintonstreetbaking.ae/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clintonstdubai