If heaven has a place on Earth, it’s probably called Serendipity.
But as with all good things, it comes with a wait. Sometimes up to a three-hour wait.
Like many others, I’ve braved the long line in the cramped waiting area of the legendary Serendipity 3 in New York City. But as of this week, lucky Las Vegas tourists and locals will no longer have to stand the wait (hopefully) or travel the 2,500-plus miles to get a piece of the famous NYC restaurant. A Serendipity of our very own has opened in Caesars Palace.
The original Serendipity 3 is tucked away in the Fashion District of NYC and has been best known for its “frrrozen hot chocolates,” decadent desserts and oversized portions since its 1954 opening. Famous patrons include former President Clinton and Andy Warhol who paid for his meals in sketches, or so the history of the restaurant tells us. And then there was that little John Cusack movie called Serendipity.
The newest addition to the Serendipity brand is a modern, Vegas-fied take on the founding restaurant with all the comfortable favorites from the NYC menu.
When entering the newest locations, it’s almost unrecognizable from its flagship. The Las Vegas location has been stripped of its personality and lacks the trinkets that only a restaurant of 50-plus years could collect.
Caesars scratched the old-school Tiffany lamps, low ceilings and cramped quarters of the NYC restaurant for candy stripped walls, a bubble gum pink and navy blue ceiling and an open floor plan. But when I took a seat in one of the heart-backed, ice cream parlor style chairs and was handed a menu larger than my torso, I felt a surge of comfort.
“Ah, there it is,” I thought.
The menu is identical to the original: oversized, black and white, brimming with characters and sketches in every inch and filled with every comfort food imaginable.
The dish names make up for the quirks Las Vegas’ Serendipity lacks. The names run from clever to raunchy and include only-in-Vegas items like a 15-inch hot dog with 10 condiments called “The Bachelorette Party” (“An even bigger dog, with all the party on the side” the menu reads). “The Young Chicken” sandwich is a favorite of Cher’s, and owner Rowen Seibel reserved the 12-inch hot dog for himself, naming it “Rowen’s 12-inch Hot Dog.” Cute.
The “A.B.C Burger,” a ground steak burger topped with avocado, Brie and caramelized onions hardly tastes like your generic diner burger, but at $11, the price reflects one.
Quality and accessibility were the two things the new Serendipity aimed for, Seibel said.
“There is something on our menu for everyone at the right price point. In good times and in bad, everyone is looking for quality and price. We’ve taken comfort food to a whole new level,” he explained.
Other dishes include massive club sandwiches, pizzas and pastas and seasonal salads, with everything priced in the $8 to $15 dollar range. Few items cost more than $20, except Serendipity’s Golden Opulence Sundae, complete with a golden spoon, for $1,000.
Decadent drinks compliment the comfortable menu, including whimsical cocktails like the cotton candy martini, made with fluffy cotton candy that dissolves when alcohol is added. A Vegas-spin is also put on Serendipity’s famous “frrrozen hot chocolate” with raspberry or orange liquor available for spiking. Drinks run on an average of $12 and are more than three times the size of the average bar drink.
If you’ve been to Serendipity without having one of their trademark “frrrozen hot chocolate," virgin or otherwise, you’ve missed the true experience. Few understand the concept, but once you have tasted the frozen chocolatety goodness topped with real whipped cream (not that junk from a can), you’ll share in the enlightenment. And whether in Vegas or New York, you’ll be willing to wait in that line. Again and again.
Recipe: Forbidden Broadway Sundae
1 large scoop vanilla ice cream
1 generous hunk chocolate cake
1/3 cup hot fudge
Place ice cream in a large serving goblet
Top with chocolate cake
Drench in hot fudge sauce
Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings