Monday, January 10, 2011

Lunching With The Little Ladies: Cafe at American Girl Place [New York]

By: Anne M. Raso

You might think that Rao's in East Harlem is the hardest res in town, but the Cafe at American Girl Place takes a good three months to score a weekend lunch slot (so call early!). The Cafe is popular not only because it is an offshoot of America's favorite doll brand, but because the food is a lot better than one would think.

Besides getting to ogle at the tons of dolls and all the accessories and clothing for both girls and their moms that match the dolls' attire, each person who dines in the black, white and pink striped dining room gets to pick a doll to dine with at the entrance (which the server then puts in a special chair attached to each table). When I dined here not too long ago with my adorable nieces Audrey and Charlotte Blocher, they are immediately treated us to hot cinnamon buns, a favorite of American Girl founder Pleasant T. Roland, when we sat down. As I glanced at the "innovative Country Club" fare, I took note that many of the entrees were named for the more famous American Girl dolls, such as Felicity's Smoked Turkey And Brie Tea Sandwiches  and Kit's Garden Party Sandwiches.
Our "First Course" tray consisted of Pretzel Bread with Honey Mustard, Cheddar Cheese Triangles, Fresh Fruit, Crisp Vegetables With Dipping Sauce and Chicken Salad Cups. I have to note that the servers are extremely helpful at the Cafe and the food comes out like clockwork -- there seems to only be five minutes between courses -- I commend them for that since the dining room is a very large space. For my entree, I had a Caprese Chicken Sandwich which came with delightful sweet potato fries; my nieces had the Chicken Tenders, Tic Tac Toe Pizza, and the top vegetarian choice, Vegetarian Quiche.
Everyone gets the same dessert, which is simply called Sweet Surprises. It consists of the Cafe's signature chocolate mousse flowerpot, an individual vanilla heart cake and a butterfly sugar cookie. The butterfly cookie is super buttery--it tastes like a Christmas cookie made from an old family recipe and the mousse seems to be made with real heavy cream (which we give a thumbs up to). A lovely way to end a fairy tale like meal!
Reservations for brunch, tea, lunch and dinner (as well as arrangements for private parties) can also be made at And sorry, but you have to give the dolls seated at your table back on the way out!

Cafe at American Girl Place 
609 Fifth Avenue at 49th Street
New York, NY 10009
American Girl Cafe on Urbanspoon

[Photos: Anne M. Raso]

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