Part I, Overpriced Brunch
Here's what Oscar's, the so-called brasserie of the Waldorf-Astoria, can offer you if you're willing to spend a morning there: a Continental breakfast for $25; two eggs with meat, toast, and homefries for $22; a mediocre buffet for $20; a side of 'seasonal fruit' for $14; toast with butter for $5.
The buffet included runny scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, a fruit selection of flavorless honeydew melon and canned pineapple, various sticky pastries, bagels with cream cheese, granola with berries, and some kind of yogurt smoothie that I chose not to investigate further. No toast. No real fruit. Pretty much nothing I was interested in eating. The coffee wasn't bad, but even if I were staying at the Waldorf-Astoria, I would never eat at this ridiculous excuse for a restaurant a second time.
Part II, Friends Cook Healthier
My Sunday ladies made their own whole-wheat pita chips (toasted on a baking sheet with spices) and served them with hummus. Turkey burgers came on larger slices of toasted pita, replete with a homemade tzatziki recipe, which consisted mostly of Greek yogurt, garlic, and cucumber. More veggies in those burgers: my friend slipped in diced peppers and onions and served the whole deal with crispy baked sweet potato cubes.
Part III, Sugar Wins After All
Despite our attempts to watch the Oscars without falling into the trap of eating fast food, greasy food, or processed food, our stomachs got the better of us. Once our burgers were gone, we all craved something sweet. One of us (name withheld) suggested hitting up the nearby Burger King for a butterfinger pie. Another of us (that would be me) said that if we were going to eat cakes we might as well walk over to the Neptune Diner on Astoria Boulevard where the cakes were somewhat fresh and where they didn't post the ridiculous and hard-to-look-at calorie count next to the item on the menu.
So we walked across the highway in the freezing cold and returned with one slice of cherry pie, one slice of carrot cake, one slice of chocolate brownie cake, one slice of cheesecake, one slice of blueberry pie, and one vanilla milkshake.
The fruit pies were gummy, fortified with way too much gelatin. Also, none of those fruits are even in season, so I'm sure the fillings came from a can. Oh, well. The crust was pre-fab tasting, but still reminiscent of those little pocket pies that came with home-packed lunches, the ones wrapped in wax paper.
Cheesecake was a success, creamy, abundant, way too large a slice. Carrot cake had raisins--a welcome addition, as far as I'm concerned--but way too much frosting and, inevitably, sugar. Ditto for the brownie cake, which my chocobsessed friend declared "too sweet," a turn of phrase I've never heard slip from her mouth. But really, she was right. The cake tasted more like a can of Duncan Hines chocolate frosting that happened to have some bits of cake floating around in it.
The vanilla milkshake was great, but I only had a sip. We discussed the New England terminology for the same drink. Up north, a milkshake consists of milk and flavored syrup. Want ice-cream in your drink? Order a frappe. That's what we call them.
I fell into a sugar coma shortly thereafter. It didn't come as much of a surprise. In fact, the whole evening, right down to the dancing Slumdog winners, was utterly predictable. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Oscar's American Brasserie
301 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10022
3105 Astoria Boulevard
Astoria, NY 11102