Well, we never thought we’d say it, but we have found a brunch spot where Bear actually blends into the crowd. That’s right, a small golden bear with a red plaid bow tie and no tail who is under two feet tall actually belongs at this restaurant. And which restaurant might that be, you wonder? Of course, none other than Fred’s.
An Upper West Side staple, Fred’s was named for a black Labrador Retriever bred by an organization dedicated to raising guide dogs for visually impaired individuals. Fred, despite being a great dog, was one of the few puppies unsuited to the task of becoming an effective guide dog, and she found her home near her eponymous restaurant.
Fred’s is decorated with precious photographs of puppies, sent by loving customers from around the world, and represents the loyalty and affection that is man’s best friend. As you can probably guess, Bear was delighted to see his furry friends so heavily represented at Fred’s, and felt right at home as another fluffy companion.
The other reason that Bear fit in at Fred’s so naturally was because Fred’s is also known as an incredibly family-friendly restaurant. Indeed, we were surrounded by beautiful Upper West Side families, most with small children that had no qualms making conversation with us and showing us their various toys, gadgets, and, yes, bears. Bear was too shy to spend much time with the children, but perhaps next time we go, he will make some new friends.
Fred’s is located in the heart of the Upper West Side, on the southwest corner of 83rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue. It is a short, pleasant walk from the 79th Street station on the 1 train, the 81st Street station on the B or C train, or the 86th Street station on the 1, B, or C train.
The host at Fred’s was incredibly friendly and sat me, though I was still waiting for a friend. “We’re not busy yet,” he assured, and gave me a premium seat by the window, with lots of light and opportunity for people-watching. The menu at Fred’s is extensive, and covers most of the standard brunch fair with an easy versatility. They have some special dishes, but every item is familiar and recognizable as American brunch food.
All the waiters at Fred’s have an unbelievably strong hair game going on, and all of them were friendly to the point of new-best-friend status. Our server in particular completely understood the struggle of being dairy-free and peanut-free, and having waiters rattle off the gluten-free options. “Honey, I can bring you a pile of gluten if that’s what you want,” he confirmed. He also understood that dairy did not include eggs, and said that any egg dish was doable, but he also recommended the grilled chicken sandwich. Perfect hair, perfect understanding of allergies—new-best-friend status, indeed.
While I was definitely tempted by the chicken sandwich, I eat chicken and rice almost every day, and therefore was hoping to branch out to more traditional brunch fare. I finally settled on the steak and eggs, because Fred’s offered the least expensive (read: under twenty dollars) steak and egg plate I had ever seen in the city of New York. Our waiter confirmed that it was a great choice, and made sure to have it cooked perfectly—just a little pink on the inside.
Turns out the steak and egg plate is actually a three course meal on a single plate. Not only are there steak and eggs, but also fries, and a heaping green salad. Not a speck of cheese, butter, or cream evident on the plate, and the kitchen had also been considerate enough to include olive oil on the side of my salad instead of a creamy dressing. A server quickly brought ketchup for the plate, as well as balsamic vinegar at my request, to go with the olive oil.
Everything was perfect and delicious. The fries were well-cut, the eggs were scrambled firm like I had asked, and the steak was perfectly grilled to a juicy touch-of-pink. I don’t even like salad, and I ate my whole salad! The multitude of things to eat also meant that I could have the pleasure of composing bites, combining flavors, and savoring each component. Even when I was lingering on the last few bites, the servers were totally understanding that I was a slow eater, and let me really finish everything before taking my plate away.
Fred’s had a cozy, rustic ambience that allowed for great, unobstructed conversation, as well as great, unobstructed eavesdropping and people-watching. Although we went for Saturday brunch, they also have a really well-priced Sunday brunch prix fixe that we’d love to check out. As we mentioned, Fred’s is also really family-friendly, and obviously used to dealing with food allergies, not to mention furry companions! If you’re spending the day on the Upper West Side, Fred’s is the perfect place to pair with a stroll in Central Park, or a visit to the American Museum of Natural History.
We highly recommend Fred’s as a quintessential New York brunch spot on the Upper West Side. Not only was Fred’s more accommodating and understanding than other places we’ve tried, but it was also delicious and well-priced. We plan on returning for Sunday brunch when the weather gets better, and we don’t mind waiting in line. As for Bear, he was reluctant to leave his new favorite brunch spot, and wonders if they might display his picture on the wall. Apparently having a blog that primarily features his furry face is just not enough!