Norma’s at Le Parker Meridian Hotel is dedicated to slinging food that is the stuff of Sunday fever dreams. A waffle stuffed with fruit, topped with crème brûlée to serve as foundation for yet another heaping of fruit. French toast, stuffed with cheesecake and then rolled in coconut before being smothered in an orange drizzle and served a la mode.
But this blog does not challenge your ability to create battered toast! Nay! So to the pancakes! Or more precisely, the flap jack! Which is just a thicker pancake!
This Ihopatopamus has a profound weakness for macadamia nuts, so the choice was easy: Norma’s irresistible banana-macadamia nut flap jacks topped with whipped banana brown sugar butter.
Don’t let the 90-character description throw you, the mad genius of the toppings is not to obfuscate a poor pancake. Norma’s isn’t just shock and awe. The flap jacks were springy, moist, and most importantly, held their own against the whipped banana brown sugar butter. The flap jacks tasted on the savory end of banana bread; their lack of (comparative) sweetness served as counterpoint to the whipped banana brown sugar butter. Actual slices of banana were baked into the flap jacks, lifting the palette out of all the butter and sugar just long enough to make you miss them.
The whipped banana brown sugar butter is as good as it sounds. The fat from the butter lends generous depth to the whipped banana and brown sugar.
But the nuts are the best part. The whole plate party is topped with whole macadamia nuts and pecans. The nuts lend a nice crunchy texture and give the entire dish a protein kick that makes it feel fulfilling without weighing (or slowing) you down.
Not to say you won’t need to breathe afterwards. The plates at Norma’s are delivered with a wink and a smirk, as if the staff is saying, “Give it your best shot.” I fasted the morning of, didn’t sit down to eat until 2:45 in the afternoon, and still found myself defeated.
(portion of Saturday/Sunday menu from Norma’s)
Like the velvet-curtained Burger Joint across the lobby, Norma’s at Le Parker Meridian does unpretentious food with the kind of flair and execution you’d expect from any restaurant claiming prime real estate in a nice Manhattan hotel. Befitting its digs, Norma’s isn’t cheap. The banana-macadamia nut flap jacks run $23 and that doesn’t include coffee or tea (both are $7 as a buy-in and delivered in a bottomless personal french press).
There are people who will say that no pancake is worth $23. I was one of them. But what Norma’s does is not just sell breakfast, they sell an experience. From the zany, why-didn’t-I-ever-think-of-that food to the contemporary, sleek decor, Norma’s and its ever-chipper staff are fantastic, memorable, and unquestionably unique. Go have yourself an experience.