Hangover Helper: Papermoon Diner makes for a brightly colored leisurely brunch

It's pretty difficult to miss Papermooon Diner (227 W. 29th St., [410] 889-4444, papermoondiner24.com)—you can see the technicolor exterior, and the yard decorated with brightly painted mannequins and mannequin limbs, from a block away, making it an easy place to spot when you're bleary-eyed and looking for a place to grab some brunch.

But should you decide to trek here for brunch, keep in mind that you won't be the only one—the diner doesn't take reservations, and on two recent visits we had to wait 20 to 40 minutes for a table. The service isn't the speediest, either, making this a brunch destination for leisurely mornings. But on the plus side, you'll have plenty to look at while you wait: The small entry way has row after row after row of Pez dispensers filling up the walls. Bodyless doll heads and headless doll bodies are nailed above a doorframe. Fat clusters of action figures gather on the walls like swarms of bees on a hive. Cows, rotary phones, a Radio Flyer wagon, fans, toy planes, more doll limbs—all that and more hang from the ceiling of the dining area, providing you with an intense visual experience as you peruse the menu.

The menu options are almost as overwhelming as the interior design. There's a lot to choose from here: four pages of breakfast food, including 15 omelet options, four kinds of French toast, pancakes, egg sandwiches, shrimp and grits, and more—and that's not even looking at the rest of the more lunch-oriented menu. We only really care about the "br" part of brunch, though, so we exclusively ordered off the front half of the menu.

The spring egg ($12.95) was by far our favorite dish. It comes with a crispy potato cake, grilled prosciutto, and two over-medium eggs, all on a bed of baby spinach tossed in olive oil and topped with hollandaise sauce. The bed of baby spinach is a fresh-tasting counterpoint to the richness of the egg, hollandaise, and potatoes, and the saltiness of prosciutto cuts through the richness of the hollandaise in a nicely balanced way.

The veggie egg sandwich ($8.75), with egg, tomato, basil, avocado, and your choice of cheese (we ordered mozzarella), was tasty, if a bit plain—it could have benefited from something to give it a kick as a counter to the creamy avocado and egg, and regretfully it only occurred to us as we were eating the last few bites of it that we could have asked for hot sauce to add to the sandwich. Next time, we'll either ask for hot sauce or order a sharper cheese on it for a truly perfect breakfast sandwich.

The ham den (get it?) omelet ($10.50) came stuffed with caramelized onions, ham, and smoked gouda, and when we say stuffed, we mean it: The egg seemed to solely exist as a vehicle for a metric fuck-ton of ham. The caramelized onions were almost too much—their sweetness was close to overbearing—but the ham and the egg kept the sweetness of the onions in check.

Our friend ordered the French toast with caramel apples ($11.75) from the more carb-heavy part of the breakfast menu. It tastes kind of like eating apple pie for breakfast, with whipped cream, very soft and syrupy caramel apples, and a vanilla sauce.

We couldn't resist ordering the bacon milkshake ($5.95), and even though it didn't arrive until after we'd gotten our food—our server apologetically explained that there had been a serious backlog of milkshake orders—it was more than worth the wait. The maple syrup blended with the vanilla ice cream and whipped cream for a super-sweet milkshake, with bacon crumbles providing the perfect savory, salty aftertaste. We'd go back to order it again—and to order one of the many other dishes we didn't get to try (the banana foster French toast in particular is calling our name). 

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