My sister treated me to lunch at Penelope on Friday, which was the perfect antidote to the snowy day. The shabby chic look of the décor, in white and powder blue, reminded me of my Victorian dollhouse. There were antique-looking light fixtures, salvaged wall art, and even a picket fence at the hostess desk. Located in the Curry Hill area of New York, Penelope (159 Lexington Avenue, at 30th Street) is one of the cuter little restaurants in a neighborhood dominated by Indian buffets and grab-and-go bagel shops.
If you’re in the mood for a sophisticated take on comfort food, head over to Penelope. The menu offered up so many vegetarian options, though there were also plenty of meat dishes. There was Ellie’s Spinach Pie, which is described as “yia yia’s greek country recipe” [sic]; The John-Oliver, a goat cheese and olive tapenade sandwich on cranberry-pecan bread; and Grilled Three Cheese, which for a buck more you can add artichoke hearts to.
I ended up getting the Mac & Cheese. It wasn’t quite as good as the one made at Chat’n’Chew, but I loved that they put tomato on it—just the way my mom serves it.
For dessert, my sister and I split a Peanut Butter Blondie, and I had a latte. So good!
Next time, I’d like to come for brunch. Their Nutella French Toast sounds amazing.
When Jennifer Potenza opened the restaurant in 2003, she named it after her pet turtle.
Fans of Greek literature, though, may remember that Penelope is also the name of Odysseus’ faithful wife in The Odyssey. While much of the action in Homer’s epic poem revolves around the adventures of cunning Odysseus, who fends off the Cyclops and the sexy Sirens, it is also a story of profound love. There’s no reason for Penelope to believe that her husband has survived when, days turn into years and still Odysseus has not returned from the Trojan War, and yet Penelope remains faithful to Odysseus by refusing to accept offers from any of the one hundred (108 to be exact) suitors that come into her life.
Twenty years later, Odysseus returns. Penelope doesn’t believe it’s him at first, and it’s only after he tells the secret that only he and she knew about how part of their bed is made from an olive tree that she believes it is truly him.
One can pick out Penelope in artwork because artists depict her at a loom and with her legs crossed.