Having heard about the delicious desserts, my children have been begging me to visit Serendipity III every time we are in New York City. Although we did not order the famous Golden Opulence Sundae, we ate plenty of other delicious desserts. Never mind the kids, I can’t say no to a Serendipity sundae!
The Attraction of its Fame
Serendipity III, established in the 1950’s, was named after three princes from Sri Lanka (the country formerly known also as Serendip). In real life, the three princes were three roommates who met in a downtown Manhattan dance class. They created a frothy confection of a cafe out of a basement in uptown Manhattan.
Serendipity has seen its fair share of famous people. A New York institution pretty much from the outset, the cafe was a favourite with Andy Warhol who would pay for food with artwork. It was also popular with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and also her husband’s mistress, Marilyn Monroe.
More recent famous visitors have included an eclectic bunch ranging from Bill Clinton, Sarah Palin, Beyonce to the Gossip Girl cast. The interiors have been used in television and the movies, most notably the 2001 romantic movie Serendipity starring Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack.
The Attraction of its Food and Interiors
It does seem the restaurant just kept adding to its decor without the benefit of a good de-clutter every once in a while. I occasionally felt like I was visiting an aged Holly Golightly (from Breakfast at Tiffanys) in her New York apartment after the dementia had started. How many Tiffany lamps does one need?
Serendipity celebrated it’s 50th birthday in 2007 by creating the Golden Opulence Sundae, a $1000 sundae made from Armagnac, edible gold, sweet caviar and chocolate from Venezuela. It is the most expensive dessert in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Pre-ordered two days in advance, the Golden Opulence Sundae is served in a crystal goblet with a gold spoon. I forgot to ask the waiter if for the $1000 you get to keep the goblet and the spoon.
We ordered the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate which was indeed as delicious as its reputation.
My son had a Banana Split (believe it or not this is the small version).
The rest of us stuck to assorted sundaes which were massive in size. The sundaes are three scoops of ice-cream with your choice of topping, whipped cream and a cherry, all of it decadently overflowing from its glass goblet. The Can’t Say No Sundae came with a a bit of peanut butter pie because this is the sort of place that believes too much is never enough.
Although there are sandwiches and salads on offer, we did not try them. The table next door to us told us that they thought the food was nothing special. The tables indeed are so close together that you can have a conversation with your neighbours.
Visiting Serendipity III
Serendipity III is located at 225 East 60th Street (between 2nd and 3rd avenues). Unless you make reservations you will most likely face a lengthy wait outside the restaurant. Serendipity III is heaving with people not put off by the cramped interiors or expensive offerings. Having said that, I think it is definitely a fun place to take the children. Even if you skip the food part, you can’t say no to the sundaes and frozen hot chocolate.