Another independent restaurant in NYC will be closing in a few days. This time, it’s the Popover Cafe on Amsterdam Avenue between 86th and 87th Streets in Manhattan. They lost their lease and will shut down on Jan. 5 in a couple of days. Whether or not they will reopen elsewhere remains to be seen. They opened for business in 1981 and became known for their gigantic popovers that are crispy on the outside and eggy and cavernous on the inside.
I stopped by the cafe this past evening to have one last meal. I opted to have brunch for dinner and ordered the Aegian Scramble. The accompanying popover, shmeered with the homemade strawberry butter, was delicious. Only now do I realize that I could have done without the scramble and instead devoured two or three more popovers. That would have been a fine meal. For anyone who doesn’t know, a Popover Cafe popover is special. Compare the popovers in this wikipedia article to the photos of the one that I had at the Popover Cafe. The difference is (ahem) huge.
Some people might find it a bit odd that I am writing about the closing of a restaurant that I had only dined at two times prior to this last meal. But it’s the Popover Cafe and there is no other place like it in NYC! When the voice of a unique business, especially a restaurant, is silenced in NYC (let alone any city or town), the vibrancy of the metropolis diminishes. Yes, the closing of Popover Cafe will provide an opportunity for another business to grow and possibly become beloved by customers. Unfortunately, businesses that closed in the Upper West Side of Manhattan over the past eight or so years have been replaced by banal brands.
So, thank you Popover Cafe. Hopefully you’ll find new life and a better lease somewhere in the neighborhood. In the mean time, I’ll pop over next door to Barney Greengrass (the sturgeon king) and get a shmeer of a different kind.