Sant Ambroeus on the Upper East Side has a reputation for being ‘kinda snoody’ and perhaps that is the key ingredient to it’s success. Well placed on Madison Avenue and 78th, the Milanese cafe has faux chandeliers above the coffee bar, the waiters wear bowties, and even children park their cars out front. Since 1936 this elegant pasticceria has been a standard of superior offerings in Italy, and more recently in NYC, where ‘we continue to serve our culturally inspired delectables in a casual yet elegant environment’.
Always eager to introduce Australians and like-minded gourmands to a newly discovered treatery, I asked one of the accented waiters why visitors would enjoy the cafe, but he passed me on to a longer serving waiter, who passed me on to a manager, who paused for so long, a by-standing customer jumped in. Apparently one should not need to ask. The man was waiting for his made-to-order brioche ham & mayo sandwiches to be individually wrapped in waxed paper bags, and his enthusiasm and waistline attested to his long standing patronage. Famous people come here, he said, happy to have spotted Steve Martin, Leonardo Di Caprio and Lucy Liu. ‘And the food is delicious!’ This was reinforced later by a woman at the bus stop who nevertheless encouraged me not to give the place kudos – she said there are plenty of other less expensive places where you can sit for hours with a coffee and not have to order cake. Ordering cake is a problem? But then she also blamed the new mayor for the bus being late. Which is never an issue if you have a hazelnut mousse sponge cream cake in a perfect little box ( taped to the base so it doesn’t damage ) to reward the journey home…
Memories 5 years ago- My family were in New York from Perth and had a wonderful lunch at Sant Ambroseus. sandwiches and pastries. Bit squeezy we were seated at the front window watching the foot traffic passing by. My daughter bought her year 12 graduation ball dress in a clothing store Intermix just opposite.
Thank you for this delightful story! What a picture, pausing for an elegant little lunch and through the window spying the dress that you probably walked all over the city to find….