A few weeks ago, my roommate recommended I check out Sugar and Plumm on the Upper West Side. I thought, “Sure, I love the Upper West Side.” Little did I know what I was getting myself into. Located just a block or two away from the 79th street station on the 1 train, Sugar and Plumm looks like a perfectly pleasant café, right at home in the heart of one of New York’s best brunching neighborhoods. “It looks really…purple,” is what I said when I saw it. If that wasn’t a warning sign, the lollipop-shaped door handles should have been.
Sugar. That is the first smell when you walk through those candy-coated (literally, though. Lollipop-shaped handles?!) doors. The experience is what I imagine walking into Candyland would be like, if Candyland was filled with stylish Upper-West-Siders and their American-Girl-doll-toting toddlers. Or if Willy Wonka decided to open up a shop infused with Parisian elements. The interior is even more purple—is there a color called “plumm?”—and sparkling than I could have ever anticipated and the whole scene made me sad that my tiara was broken and unavailable for the occasion.
Sugar and Plumm is part bistro, part bakery, and it’s filled with gelato, chocolates, macaroons, and toys. Bear felt right at home among all the posh and plush pals in their gift section, though we were worried someone might come up and snatch him from the pile. Though none of the marvels seemed to be allergy-friendly, the sight was splendid.
We were seated smack dab in the middle of the bistro, which was perfect for people-and-their-children watching. On the wall across from us was a mosaic of an ice cream sundae. The rainbow-speckled menu boasts brunch fare that’s fun and fancy (but not free). The waitress highlighted egg dishes and salads as allergy-accomodating and I ended up with the smoked salmon brunch, but with scrambled eggs instead of eggs Benedict, and a side of fries (because I was feeling like crunchy things).
The portions were incredibly filling, which was good because I am always so hungry when going to brunch. Bear loves salmon, and this smoked salmon had a melt-in-your-mouth smoothness that made it particularly delicious. The eggs were firm—nothing says soggy like soggy eggs!—and the fries were, well, fries. As in salty, crispy and good-for-your-soul-not-for-your-health. Sugar and Plumm is a little on the pricey side, but the amount of food is definitely more than the average café. Because they serve families and young children, I get the feeling that they are more comfortable with dietary restrictions and changes to orders (although the waitress didn’t actually say that).
As I already mentioned, the clientele at Sugar and Plumm includes trendy Upper-West-Siders and young parents toting young children, but also a number of tourists, girls’-night-out-but-for-brunch outings, and families. There were, sadly, no other bears at other tables, but perhaps they were just hiding from the gaggles of giggles and sticky hands.
Sugar and Plumm is incredible—as in, you can’t believe such a place exists in the world—and the place itself is a confection of pastries, Parisian charm, and Pantone brights. I still maintain that it is almost too ridiculously purple, but Bear is eager to go back with more of his plush pals. And I am happy to take him, but I think I will need to invest in a new tiara first.