Penelope: Pass on Breakfast & Go For Lunch


I arrived at Penelope close to the 11:45AM end of breakfast hours. Nutella French Toast was my target and I was excited. While waiting hopefully for a chocolate hazelnut masterpiece, I spied some French fries and a Three Cheese Grilled Cheese that both looked delicious. A reason to return, I thought. Or maybe an excuse to have two meals at once?

Would the Nutella French Toast impress? Did NYC Food Guy’s gluttony get the best of him? Read on for the thrilling conclusion and a look at the Veggie Burger and desserts…

I’ll give it to you straight: The Nutella French Toast disappointed.

  • It was made on crusty French bread, not ideal for French Toast. I need some fluffy brioche, chalah, or even some hearty white bread.

  • This dish is officially served on the prix fixe weekend brunch menu. During the week, it costs $1 extra to add Nutella to the standard French Toast.

  • Ultimately, $9.50 for three slices of tough, crispy French Toast and a little bit of fruit is not enough to satisfy NYC Food Guy’s stomach or wallet.

So I mulled over my choices.

  1. I could leave now, cut my losses, and most likely never return to Penelope.
  2. I could step my game up, satisfy the French Fry craving and go for the Three Cheese Grilled Cheese ($7.95) with some added crispy bacon (plus $2.00).

Option number 2 it is.

  • White American, Fontina, and Swiss Cheese melted between two well grilled slices of deliciously crisp sourdough and packed tight with a hearty amount of crispy bacon, well worth the step up fee. Delicious.
  • The cheese was a little undermelted, probably a result of the busy kitchen and lack of attention paid to cooking time. No points lost. The three cheeses mixed together well, the White American providing the perfect base for the salty Fontina and the sharp, stringy Swiss.
  • It was rich with the bacon, thee cheeses, and butter but I did eat Nutella French Toast 15 minutes before so that might have something to do with it.

The fries, made from Sun Valley Idaho potatoes, were excellent. They arrived crisp, skin-on, and piping-hot with a sprinkle of parsley on them. They had a very natural, very fresh flavor. Understandable considering Sun Valley is the only potato grower owned company in Idaho. Pride in the product paid off. These fries were killer.

My lovely date ordered her standard egg white omelet, this time with onions, feta cheese, and tomato. She enjoyed the bread more than anything, a hearty toasted multi-grain she chose over the French fries, an unwarranted decision to make; For $10.75 you should be getting eggs, fries, and toast.

Two lovely young ladies sat at the table next to us, watching me curiously as I photographed my food. I think they thought we were tourists but that was quickly dispelled. They were down with the NYC Food Guy’s mission and one of the women reviewed the Veggie Burger ($9.50) for me.

I have the utmost faith in her opinion because she loves Houston’s Veggie Burger, something my parents, both healthy eaters, also love. That being said, Penelope’s Veggie Burger, though served on a toasted English muffin, tasted like the defrosted variety and did not impress.

I was still considering dessert even after devouring two meals. Unfortunately, nothing really stood out.

The chocolate frosted cupcakes looked delicious but the frosting was Mocha Buttercream. I’m not really a fan of coffee flavored desserts or the $2.50 price tag for a cupcake this small. The Sour Cream Raspberry Coffee Cake looked good but seemed a little too rich after taking down the buttery Grilled Cheese. The cookies looked ordinary, then again, everything does after eating Levain. So I passed on dessert for once in my life. Getting wise in my old age.

So will I be returning?

  • Not for breakfast at least. There are too many other intriguing options out there like Ditch Plains banana stuffed French toast. I will give Penelope credit for their lunch however though I wouldn’t wait more than 15 minutes for a table. Go with the Three Cheese Grilled Cheese, it’s a nice step up from the diner standard. Great bread, nice mix of cheeses, and excellent fries.
  • The service was pretty poor. If not for the one young lady who was floating around I never would have gotten another cup of coffee or had my order taken. We had to hail her to get the waitress for both jobs. We felt ignored when we first arrived and it was fairly slow, this seemed doubly true as the restaurant filled up at lunch time. A lunchtime rush of customers which affirms Penelope’s status as better for lunch than breakfast.
  • Women will like this place, it has a nice homey vibe. The walls are painted off-white and pastel blue. It reminded me of the inside of Magnolia Bake shop.

My disappointment over the French Toast aside, the food was good quality and reasonably priced. $50 including tax and tip for three meals is a good deal. $2 bottomless cups of strong coffee also win points. $3.75 for a small glass of OJ is weak, however. Consider Penelope an off-hour weekday option. Not worth waiting for on the weekend rush.


159 Lexington Ave. at 30th St.
New York, NY 10016
Breakfast until 11:45AM
$13 Brunch Prix Fixe until 11:45AM weekends only (includes coffee & juice)

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16 Responses to “Penelope: Pass on Breakfast & Go For Lunch”

  1. Lil NYC Food Guy Says:

    I just had a grilled cheese made by the Sodexho Campus Food Services from the esteemed “Night Owl” and I gotta say, I never wanna eat one again. That grilled cheese just looks ridiculous compared to anything I’ve ever seen.

    Crunchy french toast is definitely a no-no. Just because its french bread doesn’t mean you should go french bread. I’d take mom’s french toast in great grandma ida’s frying pan any day of the week over most diners and such.

    Back to studying international business thanks for the break.

  2. The NYC Food Guy Says:


    You are so right. Grandma Ida’s pan is legendary. Something about Mom’s pancakes and French Toast. They’re made with love and in the case of the pancakes, lots of chocolate chips. I haven’t had more delicious versions of either outside our house. Right on.

    Ah good old Sodexho. We wonder why the people who work there work there. How do you fuck up bread, cheese, and butter? It’s beyond me.

    The Bacon Grilled Cheese (BGAC) at Penelope’s was solid as hell. Great bread and bacon. You could probably go without the two cheeses other than American, after all American is where it’s at, especially White American. Fries were money too. Where’s the best BGAC you’ve ever had? Hildebrandt’s is up there. We gotta hit that when you come home. And speaking of which, two weeks you’ll be back grubbin on the good stuff. Until then stay strong.

  3. mini NYC Food GUy Says:

    i like french toast. and boys

  4. The NYC Food Guy Says:


    Good to know.

  5. The NJ foodGuy Says:

    hahahahahaha you had NUTella for breakfast. is this a dirty website or food review?

  6. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    NJ Food Guy,

    Wow. I’m speechless. If you asked me that question in the voice of Cleveland from Family Guy, I’d be eternally grateful.

  7. Phil A. Shio Says:

    Where is the best place to get a pickle in nyc? besides my pants?

  8. Nj Food Guy Says:

    NY food guy,

    next pub food spot you should try is on 63rd and 1st called Beckys. Three things to try: louisiana chicken hero, cheeseburger, and philly cheesesteak wrap. all real dope. all around 10 dollars and are huge portions. get skinny or waffle fries with each, they come along with each. my reading your site and referring people to this site depends on how soon you make it to beckys. thanks.

  9. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    NJ Food Guy,

    I like the ultimatum. Putting the pressure on. I know Becky’s I’ve been there for beers and soccer before. I’m obviously going to get the burger, what do you recommend if I do. Bacon cheese? Which fries are better skinny or waffle? I’ll try to get to Becky’s asap. How are the wings?

  10. Janine Says:

    NYCFoodGuy- Did you happen to see if Penelope’s had carrot cake? I’ve heard it does and have been contemplating heading there to pick up a slice.

  11. The NYC Food Guy Says:


    I did in fact see carrot cake and im embarrassed to admit I failed to report on it. It looked juicy and the frosting looked nice and thick. I wouldn’t say it’s worth a trip for but if you happen to be near there stop in and take a peek.

  12. Lovely date's SW pal Says:

    If you do go back to Penelope, you have to try the spinach and artichoke dip. I think it’s the best thing on the dinner menu.

  13. L. D. Says:

    Mr. NYC Food Guy-

    I am impressed by your pictures. Those fries look excellent.

    If you were to go back to Penelope’s, what would you want to try next?

  14. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    LD & Lovely Date’s Pal,

    Thanks for the recommendation, you just stole my answer for LD.

    Spinach and artichoke dip sounds great. I might have to try the burger next or maybe a chicken sandwich. Something that involves those awesome fries.

  15. Hi. Says:

    BRUNCH at Penelope is so beyond amazing, especially considering most food in the Murray Hill area blows (besides Resto).

    Sometimes I can even lure my friends all the way from BK to the totally un-hip Island of Manhattan to come to Penelope Brunch. Its. That. Good.

    Besides the 2-4 hour wait to get a table … Bring a Xanax for the wait.

    Okay, so this is my order every time I go and it makes me feel pretty when I eat it:

    + The “Sam I Am” Eggs
    (scrambled eggs with cut pieces of grilled asparagus and crumbled feta)

    + Swap the fries with the side salad
    (amazing dressing, perfect greens, has craisins in it … oy!)

    + Two slices of sourdough bread
    (Toasted very very very well done)

    How to eat:

    Chug your apple cider mimo, scarf the salad, shake some Tabasco sauce on the eggies, put them on the toast and chomp. !! To die for.


    P.S. Did you get the memo? They now take credit cards!

  16. The NYC Food Guy Says:


    Sounds like you may be a better eater than I am. Ever think about starting a blog? Where else do you eat in the Hill?

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