Can there be such a thing as a Destination Omelete? I've got one for you, smoked salmon, onions, capers, served with a toasted bagel, delicious, worth a trip, no lines, no waiting.
The no lines, no waiting is a tip off that I'm not talking about Barney Greengrass. Don't get me wrong, I love Barney Greengrass. For a while I wore their souvenir T-shirt with its insane logo as my dress T-shirt. I have had actual arguments with people over their whitefish salad, whether it's better than Zabar's. Personally, I'm partial to their tuna salad, yes, usually banal tuna, but excellent there, on pumpernickel bread.
But who are all those people on weekends at Barney Greengrass, where did they come from, why are they ahead of me, is it worth it? I suppose. If you live in the neighborhood. But if you're traveling to get there, or to any place in New York that serves smoked salmon in an omelete, I have the ultimate under the radar place for you.
Sable's on Second Avenue between 77th & 78th does a great omelete. The smoked salmon isn't thinly sliced slivers or little pieces which you generally get when you order it in an omelete. They make it with chunks of smoked Scottish salmon and it's so good it will make you rethink how this dish should be served and why you've been settling all these years.
Advisory: The main activity is their appetizing business. Their "cafe," and that's a generous name for a few tables and chairs, serves on paper plates. If that's a turn off, I understand. But this is about the food, not the setting, and anyone I've ever brought there for the omelete or the appetizing has said it's outstanding.
Why Sable's is there, on the upper east side, not exactly an appetizing center, beats me. The Sze brothers from Hong Kong who own the place originally worked in appetizing at Zabar's, and opened Sable's twenty years ago. People go rapturous over their lobster salad, whitefish salad, and the sable, of course. Sure, one would say-- you can't get that stuff on the upper east side. Well, Eli's is nearby, but that's designer shopping. For my taste, and this is the highest praise I can think of in this context, Sable's could be on the west side and it would still be outstanding.
I'm not rating these places numerically, they all have destination omeletes. Barney Greengrass, surely. The Waverly Restaurant on Sixth and Waverly Place, where they serve them in individual frying pans, a really nice touch. Shopsin's, now in the Essex Street Market, deliciously eccentric. And the Sable's omelete, $8.99, with its chunks of Scottish salmon, a favorite of mine-- I usually order it with egg whites-- Sable's sitting out there, wildly out of context on the upper east side, never crowded, unknown except for the smart appetizing crowd, a sub-category I'm sure exists.
Hordes of people occupy the nearby Second Avenue joints for brunch, and you want to say, What are you eating? Why are you here? You're right near one of the great omeletes in the city. Their loss. Not ours. Go there. And if you order something other than that omelete, or buy the appetizing to go, I wouldn't yell at you.
Sables, 1489 Second Avenue, bet 77th & 78th. 212-249-6177.