Restaurant Review: Roebling Tea Room; Renegade Craft Fair 2008

Filed under all of my friends are prettier than i am, it's fun to be fat, living in new york is neat, restaurant ramblings

A couple of Sundays ago, my ladyfriends and I wanted to meet for brunch–and it should be noted here that brunch in NYC can strangely fall anywhere between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.–in my neighborhood of Williamsburg, which is uncharted territory for us as far as brunches go. We planned to check out Egg, which New York Magazine named Best Overall Breakfast this year, but their sign-in sheet was packed, and they stopped serving at 2, so we deliberated for a while

and then walked down to the Roebling Tea Room, which you will be incredibly interested to learn is named after the man who designed the Brooklyn Bridge. (And also the street that the restaurant sits on, but that’s better left unmentioned.)

My friend Emily had her brother’s Yorkiepoo (I know, right?) with her because she’d thought we’d be eating outside, and dogs on patios here are as numerous as taxicabs, but luckily Penny happens to be the cutest dog alive and won our waitress over with only a swish of her little hypoallergenic tail. It also helps that pretty much everyone who sees her mistakes her for a child’s plush toy at first, so Emily could just stuff Penny in her bag and let everyone believe she’s the kind of grown woman who’s unable to leave home without her playthings.

We were seated right away–despite the fact that we were a group of six and the place looked packed–in front of the nearly floor-to-ceiling windows that line the front wall and make it evident that the building was once a warehouse of some sort. They filled the room with light and ruined all of my pictures, but it was well worth it.

The walls were covered in green paper with white molding, antiquey sconces, and equestrians on white horses, the tables were thick, dark wood, and the waitresses were neighborhood women with infrequently-washed hair; funny how those things all fit together.

Bridgette ordered the baked cheddar eggs, which came in a little souffle crock next to a bigger crock of grits, surrounded by two huge slabs of raisin toast with apple butter. I’m used to scrambled eggs that I make myself from $1.99 grocery store cartons, so hers tasted dreamy to me, and her grits had a cheesy taste to them that we didn’t expect.

Emily and Beth ordered egg and cheese sandwiches that looked so boring to me on the menu but turned out to be monsters with dense, seeded bread and a folded heap of fillings. They’re a couple of dieting assholes and left the top of the bun untouched, and I was soooo jealous . . . until my pancake appeared.

The menu touted it as “A BIG BAKED PANCAKE (DUTCHSTYLE W RHUBARB & SPICED BUTTER)”, and never have capital letters been so appropriate. It filled the entire plate and more, piled high with warm fruit and a mound of flecked butter that had just begun to pool. The middle was a bit underdone for my taste, but the outside edge was delightfully crunchy, and the whole thing was filled with fruit. At the time, all of my friends and I were like, “Mmmmm, rhubarb!” But, umm, the menu was wrong, and we realized later that it was actually pears.

LaChantee and her boyfriend, Brandon, ordered a couple of salads that had exciting toppings but were still salads and therefore don’t deserve mention. But they did have homemade potato chips, and that’s the only reason I’m still friends with them.

Our food took approximately an hour to arrive, and no one seemed concerned about patting us on the head and thanking us for waiting, but that and the noise level in the place were the only drawbacks. My iced green tea latte tasted like the most delicious grass imaginable (and I mean that in a good way), and LaChantee loved The Lovers Tea, which arrived in a nicely sized pot with strawberries, vanilla, and sweet cream. The prices were very reasonable (and maybe even cheap) for the amount of food we got, and wine and tea list was extensive. After tasting what I did, I want to go back every week until I’ve tried the whole menu.

To wile away the afternoon, we headed to McCarren Park Pool (featured on this past season of “America’s Next Top Model”) for the Renegade Craft Fair and passed two people doing what appeared to be performance art. This pretty much sums up my neighborhood:

The craft fair took place in the pool, which has been drained for more than a decade now, and was rows and rows of vendors selling their homemade wares. Emily picked up enough Christmas presents to give the entire state of New York a happy holiday, but I kept my purchases to one necklace with a glass strawberry (mostly because I’m too cheap to spend $65 on a felted purse). HOWEVER, the fair was totally inspiring and made me want to go home and start making things right away. Those vintage-fabric skirts selling for $200? I could make one for $2. Those greeting cards with the funny phrases? My best friend and I have been thinking up even funnier ones for months now. And those $65 felted purses? I’m commissioning her to make one for me as we speak.

There was also this amazing project called 1 Bite 7 Days, which is going to be a documentary based on the Japanese proverb that says you gain seven days of life for every new food you try. I didn’t get to participate, because I was too interested in chowing down on Mister Softee ice cream,

but I love the idea of it, especially because Boyfriend Kamran has crammed so many exciting new foods down my throat in the year and nearly nine months I’ve been dating him. I think I should get seven extra years, by the way, for agreeing to eat the GONADS OF A SEA URCHIN with him.


  1. Tracey says:

    You failed to mention the glass strawberry necklace. I’m intrigued. We should make more of an effort to wear food-inspired jewelry and clothing. I’ll be sure to pack my hot dog earrings when I come to see you.

    • It was awesome how Emily was all, “$75 lightning bolt necklace? No problem!”, while I was all, “$8 3-dimensional strawberry that I want to wear every day of my life? I’m not sure I can swing it.”

      If you wear the hot dog earrings, I’ll wear my pig butt earbuds everywhere we go. I won’t be able to hear you, but at least we’ll match.

  2. Kelly says:

    I think it tells you everything you need to know about me that I wasn’t all, “Oh, what a cute little doggie-wog!”

    No, I was all, “OMG I LOVE EMILY’S BAG SO MUCH.”

    P.S. I love your life.

    • So what you’re telling me is that you reserve all of your small-yappy-dog love for Chihuahua, while innocent little Penny who was bred to not aggravate your allergies gets ignored FOR A BAG?

      I guess you’re true to your name. It is a fine bag, though, I agree.

      • Kelly says:

        Basically, yes. Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Penny is a fine dog, but you’re right, DAMN, THAT’S ONE FINE BAG.

        Maybe I should change my name to Bag_Slut?

        Now I just want some hotdog earrings. Hotdog_Earring_Slut?

  3. spaghedeity says:

    Oh! I recognise some of those girls! Recurring characters!

  4. alison says:


  5. caropal says:

    You make me want to go to New York and have brunch with hipsters, too! And I don’t even really LIKE hipsters.

    I do, however, reallyreally want your friend’s pink bag. And possibly to steal your other friend’s dog. Possibly.

    • I really enjoy that you can see a fat middle-aged woman and a guy in a baggy (and therefore obviously non-ironic) t-shirt in the background of that first picture of Emily, though. SO NOT HIPSTER.

      Come visit me, baby, and I’ll get you all the pink designer knockoffs you want.


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