We've been eating Breakfast at Katz's Express for awhile now, and always had a good experience along with their great food. It's one of our favorite places for weekend breakfast, weekday breakfast however may be a different story. Or maybe it was just that particular day.
And so it begins... As our caffeine systems were running a bit heavy with blood, we were more than ready for some fresh hot coffee with our breakfast. We were advised that the coffee is now made to order and would therefore be delayed a few minutes. Approximately 10 minutes later we were informed that the there was some sort of mishap with the first pot and it would be even longer till we got our first taste of java. Shortly thereafter our breakfast arrived. Still no coffee, but Kim, the manager came by and assured us that it would be ready very soon. Minutes later another staff member came by and picked up our coffee cups then finally returned them filled with that famous hot beverage.
It was to be our first, and last cup of coffee during breakfast at Katz's this day. It seems that since our last visit a few short months ago, one of the changes Katz's has implemented was removing the commercial-grade, self-serve coffee pots from the beverage bar and replacing them with table-service, poured-as-needed coffee; surely this is only weekdays...? Oddly, they have not removed the carbonated beverage dispenser, the iced tea or the water tanks that are self-serve; just the coffee. As the dining room filled up with lunch customers, we never offered refills, we were stupefied as to this seemingly new policy of one cup of joe per diner. Kim even passed by our table a time or two and no one stopped at our table to check on our progress. Ok, so coffee isn't that important but the key here is that it took way too long to get even one cup of coffee at a restaurant that 'serves breakfast all day'. Needless to say that this new procedure on coffee service needs to be re-brewed.
One of my favorite breakfast items at Katz's Express is the Philly Cheese Steak Omelette ($9.99). They are usually served piping hot on a warm plate and go down well with the Potato Pancakes. We usually go there on the weekends, so our weekday venture to the deli for a late breakfast was a spur of the moment kind of thing that wound up being less than what we had hoped. We arrived at Katz's about 11:20 AM - plenty of time for them to get their day started (Katz's Express opens at 10:30 AM during the week) and just before the lunch crowd began to arrive. The overall business level was light as we arrived and the staff was humming along as they prepared for lunch arrivals.
Back to the Phillycheese Steak Omelette... My omelette was cooked well, the sliced seasoned beef was grilled tender and tasty, yet it wasn't very hot - as you can see by the portion of unmelted cheese slice on top. It includes sautéed onions, green bell peppers and melted American & Swiss cheese, making for a very tasty three-egg combination. The potato pancakes are some of my favorite breakfast side items; and you get three with the omelette as well as a choice of toast or bagel, butter or cream cheese or substitute bread of choice with cinnamon roll. The cinnamon roll is always a good bet - they're huge! - but trying to keep at least a little healthy in my choices, I went with the wheat toast and jelly.
I concur with the assessment of Katz's Kolossal Cinnamon Roll. Katz's offers a breakfast option called the Brooklyn Breakfast ($5.99) which allows you to choose any three items from a vast array (including that cinnamon roll). I like the Challah French Toast, an English Muffin and coffee, but I get teased for being a carb-hound, so I went for French Toast and Beef Bacon this time. Like my companion's omelette, my French Toast did not arrive in it's expected piping-hot state on a warm plate, but rather lukewarm at best. Also, as I've stated in other breakfast reviews, I don't like a French Toast this is soggy and batter-like in the center, and unfortunately, that is exactly what I got this time. This usually seems to correspond with having a thicker sliced bread but the French Toast at Katz's is a thinner version leading me to think that it simply wasn't cooked long enough.
"Beef Bacon?" you ask. I know, right? But Katz's serves a traditional, New York Deli menu that is Kosher-style, meaning there are no pork products, and I thought I'd give it a try. I don't recommend it...
When our meals were first served (sans coffee), the Beef Bacon I received was blackened; reminding me of charred strips of fajita meat. During her stop by our table to explain the missing coffee, Kim noticed my bacon and stated it appeared overdone, asking me if I'd like it replaced. When I later received the replacement meat (pictured above) it certainly looked more appetizing, but unfortunately it tasted like overly-salted pastrami or jerky. And it was chewy - so very chewy. But since Kim, nor any server, ever returned to our table over the course of our meal (except, curiously, the employee who had taken our order at the counter, only to tell us photography was not allowed inside Katz's for "copyright reasons") I was never offered the opportunity to replace the offending protein. While there was nothing preventing from getting up or waving to someone for assistance, I opted to wait until after our meal and then simply bring it to the manager's attention.
Lest you think we wrote this up solely to complain, consider this: on numerous other visits we've spoken with the staff and management, to provide feedback both good and bad. Every time we're in, we fill out one of those feedback cards that are purportedly read by Barry Katz himself. And on this trip, we made one last effort before leaving to make contact with the manager. We waited until she was otherwise unoccupied for a moment and approached her to let hew know we'd had a less-than-stellar experience. The kicker? She simply said "okay" and walked away. This is no exaggeration, it really happened that way. We filled out another comment card to advise Mr Katz... maybe this will help to get his attention.
So has something happened at Katz's Express recently? Was there a mutiny in the management? Judging by the long line of patrons filing in, there's a chance this discontent was solely our own. But considering the disappointments we faced could have happened to anyone (what is up with that missing coffee??) we know something is more than a little "off" at Katz's Express. What do you think?
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