Columnist Caitlin Weigel votes this Philly cafe’s famous dish the toast of the town.
More than just a teenage witch or a 1954 film featuring Audrey Hepburn with a pixie cut, Sabrina’s is the namesake of an adorable Philadelphia cafe known for its brunches.
With locations in the Italian Market (Ninth and Christian streets) and Fairmount (18th and Callowhill streets), Sabrina’s prides itself on serving up Hagrid-sized portions of comfort food to the people of Philadelphia.
There’s a pretty wide selection offered when you brunch at Sabrina’s. Huevo’s ranchero’s, exotic frittatas and breakfast burritos are all on the menu, but if you’re craving something sweet, you can’t go wrong with the Stuffed Challah French Toast – spelled in all caps as a testimony to how good it is.
If you plan on indulging in the massive portion of fresh Challah bread, dipped in milk and eggs, stuffed with a sweet cream cheese concoction and topped in bananas and vanilla bean syrup, be my guest. Be forewarned that you will not be able to eat anything else for the rest of the week.
The Stuffed Challah French Toast presents one of the biggest challenges known to eaters and food appreciators everywhere – the paradox of not wanting to let anything so delicious go to waste, while worrying about your waist and the possibility of your stomach actually exploding.
Each bite becomes a struggle as one little man jumps up and down on your shoulder screaming about its delicious factors while his counterpart frantically warns you that one more bite will put you over the edge.
A food coma is sure to set in as you raise your fork to your mouth the last few times. A lazy, happy smile will spread across your face, and you will most likely seem drunk to the other patrons as you babble incoherently about the legality of marrying a breakfast dish.
Because some sick part of me enjoys inducing gut-busting food insanity, I decided to re-create the Stuffed Challah French Toast at home. The recipe is fairly straightforward, and the ingredients are easily accessible.
The most important part is buying a loaf of Challah bread. Challah bread is definitely the supermodel of the bread world – I took more than a dozen pictures of its shiny, braided surface. The rest of the ingredients can easily be found lying around the house – eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, cream cheese, cinnamon and that bunch of overly ripe bananas you bought in a random fit of healthy, wishful thinking.
Slice up the bread in fairly large chunks, then cut another slit down the center to create a pocket for the stuffing. Mix the cream cheese with some vanilla, sugar and one of the mashed bananas.
Stuff the mixture inside the bread, and then dip it into a mixture of the milk, eggs and cinnamon. Slap it in a well-buttered pan and wait for it to turn golden brown.
For the vanilla syrup, I added vanilla extract to syrup. This seemed like the most straightforward explanation of how one makes vanilla syrup. It worked for me, but it didn’t really compare to Sabrina’s version.
The end result? Dayum.
I think I deserve a pat on the back and another brunch at Sabrina’s for whipping up this little slice of heaven. And while I recommend you try your own hand at Stuffed Challah French Toast, Sabrina’s is still totally worth a visit. There’s a million other mouth-watering menu items, so why not take your grandma next time she’s in town?
Sabrina’s seems to share more than just a name with the beloved Melissa Joan Hart character of the late ‘90s – there’s something seriously magical about its brunch.
Caitlin Weigel can be reached at email@example.com.