Serendipity 3: A New York Legend Celebrates 65 Years Of Sundaes & Shindigs

Serendipity 3 is a New York legend for many reasons. It was put on the map of “go to” places back in the 50s when Andy Warhol and his gang of “on the way up” artists hung out there regularly (the future art superstar was said to just about live on the Lemon Box Pie). Movie stars including Marilyn Monroe could also be spotted in the unique mix of clientele. Serendipity 3 was truly a place where many different worlds collided and it is still like that if you can believe it!The Serendipity 3 atmosphere is as unique as the remarkable sundaes and underrated savory fare served there. It has not changed much since 1954 and the staff likes to say that “everything is for sale.” We don’t think you can buy an actual table but the Tiffany and faux Tiffany lamps are certainly up for grabs–and we hear that a few society types have purchased them! The gift shop alone makes Serendipity 3 worth visiting. It’s a bastion of kitsch and cuteness–besides being able to buy packets of their Frozen Hot Chocolate Mix, you can get phone cases shaped like popsicles, tea pots shaped like cats and candy shaped like pizza slices.Thanks to brand manager and publicist Joe Calderone, Serendipity 3 is in the Guinness Book Of World Records for its $1000 Golden Opulence Sundae–the most expensive in the world. Joe says that a few of these are ordered every week and that the most ever ordered at one time was seven. Apparently a Saudi oil magnate ordered one for everyone at his table and he paid in cash! The 23k gold leaf is what makes it so pricey–along with truffles made with the world’s most expensive chocolate (the TV segment that I saw about a decade ago of Paris Hilton eating a Golden Opulence sundae with a friend still sticks in my memory).Serendipity stays new and exciting by offering the most unique sundae “specials” that are offered for only a period of a few months at $19.95 each (and are big enough to serve two to four people). Above is the Unicorn, a sundae that was made available starting in March. The minute that I saw a photo of it on the internet I knew that I had to try it! It features moist yellow cake dyed every color of the rainbow and then dusted with edible glitter, vanilla buttercream icing, sour gummy laces, and then topped with Serendipity brand strawberry ice cream, fresh strawberry sauce, whipped cream, multicolored sprinkles and a tiny cone.

The latest special sundae is the ultra-colorful and feminine “Whipped Cream–The Sundae” in honor of American Ballet Theater’s Whipped Cream now running. Some of the dancers were actually invited over to test it out last month and loved it. This beautiful frozen delight consists of Serendipity’s own Vanilla Vogue ice cream (which you can actually buy by the pint at 7-11 and mainstream chain supermarkets like Shop-Rite), hot fudge sauce, coconut “cloud” cake, whipped cream, coconut flakes and candy shapes including stars and flowers. The plastic ballerina dressed all in pink and plopped on top is not edible, though–it’s for the guest to take home as a souvenir.I recently dined at Serendipity after not being there for a few years and was quickly reminded how good the savory food was! Their classic cheeseburger served with steak fries is a staple and known for being consistently good. The menu is extremely diverse and ranges anywhere from classic breakfast fare like omelets and toast to great pasta dishes to Shepherd’s Pie (which becomes increasingly hard to find in the city).I want to add that there is a secret about Serendipity’s savory fare that has not leaked out before–they serve some rockin’ filet mignon but it is always on the “specials” menu (your server will automatically tell you if it is available). The filet mignon skewers with mushrooms, red pepper and cubed pineapple is remarkable and it comes with a large portion of field greens and a tangy orange ginger dressing. I will be going back again for this!Aside from the food, I just adore the comforting feeling that I get from a visit to Serendipity. It is one of those classic New York places that has nothing else similar to it. Serendipity has not changed much over the years and it is not shocking to hear that four generations of a family have dined there. It is eternally chic without being pretentious. Even when it is crowded, no one rushes you out and all the unique antiques and bric-a-brac keeps your interest. After eating, you always want to go scope out the entire upper and lower floors for unique “finds” and it’s hard not to spend at least 15 minutes scouring the legendary gift shop for fun gift items. Serendipity 3 remained in the hands of original owner Stephen Bruce until just two years ago and the present owner plans on keeping it run the same way, which is great news! It is located at 225 East 60th Street, just a stone’s throw from Bloomingdale’s and the upstairs private room has been used for many fetes from birthday parties to record release parties over the years. I remember going to a party upstairs for R&B girl group 3LW and meeting actor Robert Iler who played A.J. Soprano at it! For more information, go to www.serendipity3.com. Reservations are recommended but not necessary and dress is casual.

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