Btwn 5th & 6th Ave
Fax: 212-869-4398 Menu link click here.
To visit The Red Flame Coffee Shop in Midtown, Manhattan is to have the quintessential New York diner experience. Monsieur and I have visited this bastion of weekend brunch each time we’ve been in Manhattan and on each occasion we’ve left a little breathless; it’s like dining in a washing machine on a fast spin cycle, only without the dizzy spells.
I would say that you shouldn’t go to The Red Flame if you’re not prepared to wait for a table. Having said that, the wait shouldn’t be too long, such is the speed of table turnaround. This diner is especially packed on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and the all-you-can-drink coffee is practically splashed into your cup (bring a bib!) because the staff are so incredibly busy that pancakes seem to fly out of the pan and across the room – think edible frisbee.
Monsieur likes the Red Flame pancake stacks (not for the carbo-phobe) which are likely to beat you unless you have an insatiable stomach, but they’re still worth trying, especially as they come with bacon AND maple syrup. It’s an unusual combo, at least to me, but the sweet-savoury thing works well. Personally, I prefer the bagels – the classic lox and cream cheese option is simple and not too overwhelming; portion sizes are FLAMING big here.
Gastronomes won’t get much out of The Red Flame other than local atmosphere, so don’t expect truffle oil on your omelette or sculpted vegetables on the side, but the food is hearty and tasty and energising for big days in the Big Apple.
Drinks-wise, the chocolate milkshakes are worth a splurge, but don’t expect the coffee to be anything other than instant and definitely don’t look for smiley, happy service. The wait-staff don’t have time for all that schmalz. In spite of that, it’s definitely worth the time to brunch here, just for the people-watching and buzzy vibe and you certainly can’t complain about slow service.
Lastly, I have to comment on the How To Help A Choking Victim poster in a corner by the door. I know they’re a health & safety requirement in New York, but it isn’t the most appetising of wall art to be faced with whilst eating. It’s also odd how that poster sticks in my mind so that whenever I think of The Red Flame, I remember Choking Victims. You wouldn’t want to play word association games with me, that’s for sure.