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The author’s photo inside the Blue Box Cafe. Photo: Claire Carusillo

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I Tried to Have Breakfast at Tiffany’s

But by the time I got in, it was lunch.

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Holly Golightly’s breakfast at Tiffany’s was at 5 a.m. That’s canon. Rather, it was a breakfast outside Tiffany’s: She was a sex worker just getting off of work, eating a croissant while wearing formal evening gloves, standing outside the Fifth Avenue shop fantasizing about a life that wasn’t hers. I know this because I rewatched the movie the night before my own breakfast at Tiffany’s new Fifth Avenue Blue Box Cafe, and I have some notes for the director and screenwriter. Almost all of them are about Mickey Rooney in yellowface.

My own Breakfast at Tiffany’s commenced around 2:15 p.m., technically making it a Late Luncheon at Tiffany’s, or probably more accurately, The Hour I’m Usually Eating an RX Bar Even Though I Hate Them But I’m Busy and It Seemed Healthy at Tiffany’s. This is not for lack of trying to eat there earlier in the day. I got to Tiffany (I’m calling it Tiffany and not Tiffany’s from here on out, because I grew up in the Midwest and I’ve long trained myself against our regional tendency to add an apostrophe-S onto places that aren’t named after a possessive, such as Jewel’s or Nordstrom’s or J.C. Penney’s.) at 10 a.m., the hour that the cafe opened. I was about the 30th person in line on the main floor waiting for an elevator to the fourth. Tiffany staff said that the line upstairs was even longer. So I waited.

In this darkly violent time, whenever I chase my big New York dream of waiting in line and then writing about waiting in line, I ask myself two questions: How likely is the occurrence of a mass shooting here? and How likely is a former Real Housewives of New York cast member to be here? I appeared to be one of the only American people in line, so the likelihood of a shooting seemed low. Guns: It’s a cultural thing!

But Kristen Taekman, a two-season RHoNY wonder best known for being the recipient of Ramona Singer’s “Who are you to get me wet?” speech, was about five heads in front of me in line, waiting just like the rest of us. At one point, I took a photo of her putting on an extremely tiny tiara and taking a selfie, and then no less than 45 seconds later I found the evidence of this selfie on her Instagram stories. That was a thrill.

RHoNY’s Kristen Taekman in line at the Blue Box Cafe.
RHoNY’s Kristen Taekman in line.
Photo: Claire Carusillo
Kristen Taekman’s Instagram story.
Kristen Taekman’s Instagram story.
Photo: Kristen Taekman

“Hours!” Tiffany personnel kept telling us as I hunkered down and scrolled through the last eight months of Kristen Taekman’s lifestyle blog (linked in her Instagram bio, of course). I counted the security cameras in the ceiling — 24, I think. I noted that the zodiac designs on the enormous mirrors on all four walls of the room seemed on trend. I wondered why I was there, as I’m not the type of girl who ever had an Audrey Hepburn dorm room poster. The first time I saw the movie was in college, when a linguistics professor of mine used Audrey Hepburn’s pronunciation of Holly’s no-name slob cat named “Cat” to demonstrate the consciously acquired mid-Atlantic accent.

After an hour-long wait downstairs, I made it to the elevator bank, where a woman took my name and phone number. The elevator operator asked me where I was headed and I said, “Fourth floor please!” and he said, “You know that just because I’m taking you up here doesn’t mean your table is ready?” and I got a little bit aggressive in my response because yeah no duh and then we spent the traverse of floors two and three indignant with one another.

I’m not going to bore you with anecdotes about waiting in line because I’m assuming you’ve waited for a cronut or gone to Beautycon or something in 2013, the year of the line. Also I don’t even want to condemn the Tiffany staff for a chaotic wait. This was their first time doing this! They couldn’t have understood the public interest. They tried their best and remained courteous, even as people started screaming at them around 1 p.m.

Instead, I’ll just let you know what I did during the next three hours (mind you, after already waiting an hour downstairs) while waiting to breakfast at Tiffany’s Blue Box Cafe in order to illustrate the tedium, the leg cramps, the dying phones.

  • Read the entirety of Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev’s seminal Spring Torrents, including footnotes, for a class.
  • Indulged in a rich fantasy of being a woman who is interested in jewelry (other than the gold-plated “ELEGANCE” nameplate necklace I was wearing at the time) and picked out a dainty cross signet for my niece Kaytlyn’s communion.
  • Left the building and ate a lunch of broccoli tacos in the basement of the Plaza Hotel.
  • Charged my phone 67 percent at the Apple Store while pretending to compare pricing options on the iPhone X.
  • Rewatched the remarkable and tragic “Being Nathan” special of Teen Mom 2 on my phone, letting the battery die once again. He figures that if his bodybuilding career doesn’t pan out (it doesn’t), he’ll just become a cop. He has multiple charges for domestic abuse pending against him.

I never did get that text message letting me know that my table was ready, but at 2:10 p.m., I marched up to the maitre d’hotel and asked him how long the wait would be. He told me that he couldn’t find my name on the list. At that point, we were both near tears and I said, “I talked to a PR person three hours ago and she confirmed I was on the list.” I did not let the maitre d’ know that I had been “found out” by a PR person that I was there for Racked as another “member of the press” made conversation with me. She was not pleased by my presence, as I did not coordinate with her office first. She said I wasn’t allowed to take any photos in there (I did), but she said she couldn’t prohibit me from waiting in line and eating breakfast.

I still hate myself for saying what I said, but it worked. I was quietly ushered to a two-top table and sat on a Tiffany blue banquet in the tiny restaurant with park views. As my former Racked editor Kenzie Bryant wrote at Vanity Fair, the restaurant’s theme is blue. “A vivid jewel in the back, the restaurant makes the most of its compact space,” she writes. “It’s entirely Tiffany blue. The chairs have blue slip covers, and the china plates — Krakoff originals — are dipped in blue glaze. The walls are painted Tiffany blue, unless it’s a wall made of amazonite (nature’s Tiffany blue).”

Tiffany blue registers as more green in my eyes, but I’ve worn glasses since first grade and essentially agree with Kenzie’s assessment. The restaurant does makes the most of its compact space. But when I finally entered the room, I felt sad. It reminded me of the weird cafe that the Neiman Marcus at my hometown mall in Oakbrook, Illinois, has on the second floor, where the menu is entirely composed of small cups of broth and popovers with strawberry butter. It overlooks the mall parking lot, and I’ve only gone there when my mom took pity on me after I couldn’t get a dress to fit me for some corn-stuffed Midwestern dance or something. The view in the Tiffany cafe is stunning, really, but it’s hard to get rid of those feelings, those “mean reds,” as our girl Holly called them.

I guess here’s where the food writing comes in, but I’m not much of a tastemaker. I worked at Eater, but my most significant accomplishment there was a video I made of me getting my boob molded into a drinking vessel. The menu only had pre-fixe options, so I chose the breakfast platter because I came here to do a job of eating Breakfast at Tiffany’s and also it was the cheapest thing on the menu.

When my food came, I regretted not getting the tea sandwich tower, because two girls next to me with 800-pound DSLR cameras had gotten that. It had an edible nest with an egg that I really wanted to take a selfie with. Instead, this is the shot of myself I forced my server to take, and regrettably, my eyes are closed.

The author enjoying her expensive tea.
The author enjoying her expensive tea.
Photo: Claire Carusillo

The food, like this Tiffany hanging heart pendant that I and every girl I went to middle school with got for our 13th birthdays, was unremarkable. My breakfast started with a miniature croissant and a fruit plate.

a breakfast of fruit, coffee, and an a croissant.
Count the berries.
Photo: Claire Carusillo

The fruit plate was composed of:

  • Two raspberries
  • Three blueberries
  • One fig, halved
  • Three honeydew balls
  • Two cantaloupe balls
  • One grape, halved
  • Two edible flowers

Then I got soft-scrambled truffle eggs. Pretty good!

And then breakfast was over. Twenty-two minutes had elapsed. I didn’t wait around for four hours to get up and leave, so I ordered a signature Tiffany-blend tea and really made a meal of drinking it. I added lemon and honey and cream in order to make it worth the extra seven dollars. For a second there, I felt like I was a part of it all. But then I looked around and thought, “Who are these people?” They were New York tourists, like me, like Holly, above our stations, indulging in a fantasy.

And then 32 minutes had elapsed, and I had nothing more to eat or drink, and my phone had died again, so I quietly packed up my purse, and returned to my quiet life of a no-name slob.

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