She doesn’t have the name recognition of her next-door neighbor, Julie Francis of Nectar. And she probably doesn’t care. But you should know Annabel Stolley, because she possesses the skills and talent of many of the most visible chefs in the city. So, heads up Sean Daly (Hugo) and Joe Tucker (Tucker’s): Better mind your grits. Stolley’s are every bit as homespun heavenly as yours. Cheesy with pecorino romano, then grilled and topped with black beans, fresh housemade salsa, and eggs your way (ours arrived perfectly over easy), Stolley’s glorious grits prevent her “Eggs of the House” from living a more conventional life as a mere Tex-Mex breakfast dish, elevating it to the stuff Wow! is made of. And hey there, pastry chefs Summer Genetti (The Palace) and Karen Crawford (Jean-Robert’s Table), surely you’ve eaten Stolley’s desserts. If you dined at York Street Café between 1997 and 2006, then you have. Luscious whole cakes and tarts were the first thing that caught your eye as you entered the main dining room. They now reside here—within arm’s reach of a table or two—on the counter of her sunny, diminutive café. Strawberry buttermilk cupcakes. A fiendishly good chocolate hazelnut flourless torte. Butter rum cake. Blueberry almond coffee cake. And my favorite: a beauty of a French lemon meringue tart. Part girlish coquette and plump matriarch, its flavor and texture is as seductive as it is sincere. In addition to breakfast and desserts, plump sandwiches and fresh salads (Stolley tops mixed greens and red onion, peppers, tomato, cucumber, and feta with handmade falafels and tahini sauce for a loved-up version of Greek salad) are delivered by energetic servers with dispositions as sunlit as the room.
Breakfast and lunch Wed–Sun.
Originally published in the May 2011 issue.
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