Tag Archives: cafe

Jane on Fillmore: a neighborhood café to die for

JAne

As bustling of a food-city that San Francisco is, I’ve always been disappointed by the lack of bakeries or coffee shops with awesome home-baked goods. New York City is chock-full of them – from Amy’s Bread to Billy’s Bakery, there’s a bakery available to the cookie obsessed and the cake fanatics in every neighborhood. Sure, San Fran has a few cupcake shops (I love Kara’s cupcakes off Chestnut), and incredible artisanal bakeries that aren’t as accessible to the Pacific Heights resident (Tartine is amazing), but homey cafés with an abundance of cakes, muffins, cookies, scones, and other butter, flour & sugar concoctions are SERIOUSLY lacking. Maybe my 4 years working at UC Davis’s Coffee House, which pumped out cakes (and cookie samples) by the hour, caused my withdrawal. Whatever it is, it’s a well justified concern.

jane from second floor

jane from second floor

Thankfully, Jane on Fillmore street has recently come to the rescue. Over the last few weeks of fun-employment, despite having the chance to explore all my neighborhood has to offer, I just can’t get enough of this café’s almond milk cappuccinos and scrumptious baked goods. The plentiful case displays more than enough options, but I can proudly say that I’ve pretty much tried every single one of them. They’ve got a buttery citrus brioche. A savory scone with ham, chives and cheese. Banana bread – both vegan and regular. A vegan pumpkin chocolate chip muffin for those sweet-craving mornings. The blueberry-banana muffin for the days I’m pretending to eat a healthy breakfast. There’s also a “Cooking for Breakfast” cookie that’s subtly sweet and stuffed with dried fruit and oats, for those who those who like that sort of thing. The cookies – which include flavors like sprinkles, salted white chocolate chip oatmeal, chocolate chocolate chip, chocolate toffee chip, and peanut butter-quinoa-millet are to die for, especially the ones that sandwich a scoop of cream cheese frosting. As I write this blog, I’m noshing on a “Crazy Cookie” filled with chips, chocolate chips, toffee, and marshmallow. True, it doesn’t get much crazier than this.

cappuccino

cappuccino

my fantasy display case

my fantasy display case

cake of the day

cake of the day

savory quiche

savory quiche

But that’s not all – Jane has amazing food to order as well, all homemade and most of the time organic. The granola – both vegan and regular – is like crack. I’ve bought them both, and I eat the oats by the handful. The breakfast sandwiches, like the one with egg, cheese, avocado, and roasted tomatoes stacked between two thick-cut pieces of griddled sourdough bread, are the perfect hangover helper. And the salads (there are about 10 of them) are fresh, healthy, and delicious, especially the ones with their house-made green goddess dressing. And how could I forget the energizing green smoothie with apple, lemon, kale, and ginger?

chopped veggie salad with green goddess dressing

chopped veggie salad with green goddess dressing

salad nicoise

salad nicoise

smoked salmon platter

smoked salmon platter

egg white breakfast sandwich

egg white breakfast sandwich

The space itself is beautiful as well – the natural light and the black and white motif are the perfect setting for zoning out on a laptop. And, though it’s always bustling in here, the energy is contagious, not overwhelming.

To put it lightly, I am freakishly obsessed with this place, and I fear that my pre-business school food budget is going to rapidly dwindle if my daily habit continues. But when I’m saddened by the thought of a day without a creamy almond milk cappuccino, I realize that it’s totally worth chipping into my school books’ budget. I’m just waiting for the day that the barista remembers my name.

Grade: A+
Location: 2123 Fillmore between Sacramento and California Streets
Website

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Filed under Brunch, Cheap Eat, Erin's Favorites, San Francisco

Maison Premiere: dainty seafood in New Orleans’ fashion

My favorite thing about Maison Premiere in Williamsburg is not necessarily its food or its cocktails, but its ability to transcend time and create a feeling truly reflective of an 19th century New Orleans’ absinthe house mixed with a classic Paris-cafe. An unassuming storefront with french country doors, wooden stools, leather booths, a gorgeous marble bar, waiters with curly moustaches, gold-leaf monogrammed white china, and a pull-flush toilet show the owners’ incredible attention to detail in creating a fully-orchestrated experience for their customers. The restaurant was formerly known for its cocktails, but with a new chef and a robust seafood-stocked menu, there’s much more to be found than a long list of absinthe drinks.

dining room bar

seafood (photo from website gallery)

Bar it may be, but Maison Premiere’s food is nothing short of refined. My seafood plateau included an oyster with caviar, sea urchin with gaspacho, scallop with pear and horseradish, razor clam with celery root and apple, bay scallops with lemon grass and thai basil, and geoduck with white soy and avocado. My perfectly coiled raw Alaskan King Salmon with caviar and creme fraiche tasted like the most sophisticated version possible of my dad’s favorite lox and bagel breakfast.  The Lobster with sunchoke, chestnut, and custard was absolutely divine – a large white pot with creamy, soothing lobster broth and hearty chunks of lobster was the perfect thing to finish off my $3 order of home-baked bread and seaweed butter. Don’t expect anything but the raw oysters to be served traditionally here – my autumn salad, which was written sans description on the menu, arrived as a beautifully composed dome of fruit and lettuces, unlike any salad I’ve seen before. Dessert was just as eclectic – the rum-soaked cake and the absinthe panna cotta tasted shockingly more alcoholic than my wine, but the coffee pot de creme balanced out the oddities. And with dirty martinis and wine throughout, I left the restaurant feeling like I had quite a trip to the old bayou where alcohol induced artists and writers were the quintessential product of the times.

Smoked Alaskan King Salmon (photo c/o SeriousEats.com)

sea urchin close up (photo c/o seriouseats.com)

lobster with custard

oyster platter

Everything about Maison Premiere is intricately thought out, from the menu’s vintage font to each plate’s well-incorporated flavors. This is not a place for greasy food and brew. Come here only if you’re craving an experience – not a meal – of perfectly measured cocktails and delicate food in a hipster meets 19th century enclave. I commend this place not only for the inventive seafood, but for also staying true to the perfectly measured Maison Premiere brand. I’ll definitely be back for next season’s menu.

Grade: A
Location: 298 Bedford Ave between South 1st and Grand Street

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Filed under Brooklyn, Drinks & Apps, Romantic Date, Seafood, Southern

Grey Dog’s Coffee

Don’t be fooled by the name. Grey Dog’s Coffee offers oodles more than mochas and lattes. In fact, it’s one of my favorite neighborhood cafes for classic American breakfast or lunch. New York would be a better place with more casual stand-up-and-order establishments like this one – more often than not, I have no food in my house, but I want a good meal and a place to eat it without enduring the waiter-patron interaction. Ordering in is more commonly the solution, but Grey Dog Coffee always fits the bill when a change of scenery is essential.

bakery snapshot

Today I brought my sisters, mom and nephew along for the ride of the Grey Dog brunch. Despite arriving at prime time around 12pm, an attendant saved us a table for five while we waited in line to place our order. Though the colorful chalkboard menu is packed with a variety of smoothies, soups, salads, and typical egg dishes, I was in the mood for something simple and decided on the yogurt and homemade granola with extra fruit, along with a homemade zucchini muffin. I am a sucker for breakfast pastries and baked goods, and Grey Dog’s glass display of massive muffins ranging from strawberry with chocolate to apple cinnamon get me every time. My sisters ordered what I most often get on the weekends: the Grey Dog breakfast with eggs, potatoes, bacon, and french toast, and my mom ordered the breakfast quesadilla – well, she meant to. When she realized that she had accidentally ordered the cheese quesadilla, our server gladly brought over an extra side of scrambled eggs to help her turn the dish into the concoction she had imagined.

breakfast quesadilla

grey dog breakfast

The food at Grey Dog is hearty, filling, and straight-forward. They serve a stick-to-your-bones kind of breakfast that will last you until dinner time at insanely affordable prices compared to the restaurants in the area. There are fortunately multiple locations, so regardless of where you live downtown, you should be excited to fit this in your weekend routine.

Grade: A

Location: Multiple; 242 West 16th between 7th and 8th Avenue

Website: http://www.thegreydog.com

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Filed under American, Brunch, Chelsea, Erin's Favorites, Greenwich Village, West Village

Just open: New Google Cafe

When I came back from Brazil I could hardly navigate the New York office. With a new California-style cafe on the fifth floor (accessible via ladder from the fourth floor), a food truck themed cafe specializing in Asian food and frozen yogurt, and new snacks and cereals in the micro kitchens, my workplace felt more like the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market than a place to sell ads (not that I was complaining). And just when I thought I had a grasp on all the changes, I was forwarded an email announcing yet another cafe – this time, even better – in my actual building.

front view

The cafe is called the Market Cafe, and is filled with some of my favorites from Chelsea market, just below us. The best part was the Kunik cheese from Lucy’s Whey, which is one of my favorite cheeses, that was served along side fruit and walnut bread, another one of my favorites. The fruit bar was filled with fresh cherries, strawberries, blueberries, and melon, and no joke, a fresh oyster bar sat fully stocked with oysters from the fish market downstairs. In modest terms, we are completely spoiled. If not a good technique for overall employee retention, this amazing food is no doubt a way to keep the foodies around.

amazing cheese station

white asparagus for the summer

seared scallops

I feel like a brat posting this, but after three years here, I still can’t get over the fact that these endless options are presented to me every meal Monday through Friday just by sake of working here. Without a doubt Googs, you get an A+ in my book!

Chef station

Grade: A++

Website: http://www.google.com

Location: accessible by invite only 😦

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Filed under Business Meal

Cafe Cluny

There's Mer!

I’ve lived in the West Village for three years and I am ashamed to say that before today, I had never dined at Cafe Cluny, a West Fourth Street staple. Fortunately, my friend Mer proposed it for brunch. When I walked in I could immediately understand the appeal of this place. With its cozy yet classy French country feel, it possesses the same style of my imaginary future home. It fits in perfectly with the the beautiful restaurants and stores that surround the area, and with such nostalgia for the West Village I couldn’t have been happier to be eating there.

The bar from back dining room

back dining room

Considering my slow recovery from a bout of food poisoning last night, I wanted to eat simply so I was thrilled to see a solid menu of  standard brunch fare with a subtle french twist. Mer and I both started with the grapefruit-brulee which had a crust as sweet and crispy as a classic creme brulee. Though the sections could have been better cut, the grapefruit was delicious and could definitely be used as a healthy dessert option for those craving the real thing.

grapefruit brulee

Mer went for my sister’s usual: frisee salade aux lardons with a poached egg, while I went for my all time favorite breakfast dish: homemade granola with berries and yogurt. Some of my friends and fellow food lovers would shoot me for opting for such a boring combination, but a serious granola fan knows that this traditional combination can vary immensely. This one happened to be just perfect because the amount of berries far outweighed the yogurt – just as I like it. The granola was crunchy with almonds – another plus in my book – but I wouldn’t say it was the best homemade granola I’ve tasted. I prefer granola with a sticker, freshly-roasted taste.

frisee aux lardons

a match made in heaven

Overall, I would definitely return to Cafe Cluny for a quintessential West Village brunch in a beautiful setting with beautiful people and refined twists of classic dishes. And don’t worry, the fun isn’t over when you finish your meal – even your check comes with large chunks of dark chocolate!

Grade: A-

Location: 284 West Fourth Street at West 12th

Website: http://www.cafecluny.com

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Filed under Brunch, West Village

Kava Cafe

Kava on Washington Street

On the weekends, the last thing I want to do is walk over 5 blocks to get a decent pastry and some caffeine. Now that Kava has opened just steps from my apartment, I thankfully no longer have to go through that agony. Kava is exactly the type of coffee shop I would imagine in this high end neighborhood – essentially a direct transplant from Italy, the cafe specializes in espresso, organic teas, a small selection of gorgeous pastries, panini, and gelato. I went yesterday to pick up breakfast for my mom and me, and though I was astounded by the prices ($15 for 2 pastries and 2 teas), I was even more surprised by the quality of the food.

inside Kava

With only an array of scones, canele, and croissants to choose from, I selected the shiny almond croissant and the cranberry scone. The scone was dense, golden brown, buttery, and delicious. Crisp on the outside and fluffy and soft in the middle, the almond croissant was equally delicious. Both pastries were evidently fresh and massive leap of improvement from the food at Starbucks.

display case

pastries at home

I’m not a coffee drinker, but the baristas beautifully and carefully prepared each coffee drink, foaming the milk to perfection. My mother, however, did say her latte was on the watery side. My organic, hand crafted green tea on the other hand was wonderful.

Thanks to its close proximity to my apartment, I’ll definitely return to Kava. I wouldn’t urge one t o go out of their way for the coffee or the pastries, but I can only be grateful that I now have a neighborhood cafe.

Grade: A-

Location: 803 Washington St at Horatio St

Website: http://www.kavanyc.com

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Filed under West Village

Cafe Condesa

What seems like ages ago, I lived in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment on Christopher street, and Cafe Condesa was my go-to neighborhood spot. Last night, I decided to get a blast from the past after learning about the one hour wait at Joseph Leonard. Cafe Condesa at first site appears to be a neighborhood coffee shop – with just two or three chefs cooking on electric stoves behind a small bar, 10 wooden two-tops max, and an exposed bathroom door, it definitely doesn’t have the fixtures and amenities of most restaurants in the area. Regardless, the vibe is satisfyingly relaxed, romantic, and cozy, and the food, which is a essentially American with a tiny Mexican twist, is consistently delicious. For the bare-boned-ness of the space, the menu offers a wide selection of sophisticated comfort food, from warm brie and honey to roasted salmon and grilled skirt steak, and an affordable variety of wines by the glass to wash it all down. And, even more impressive is the instantaneous serving of warm baguette with fresh butter, the real key to my stomach.

Despite our waiter’s tempting description of the butternut squash soup special, I decided to stick to my long time favorites and ordered the three cheese portobello salad with pecorino, shaved parmesan, spinach and balsamic glaze as my appetizer. The spinach leaves were whole, whereas in the past they were coarsely chopped, but the mushroom filled with the savory, smooth cheese medley was just as delicious as I had remembered.

I could have chosen blind-folded and been happy (I’ve yet to order the chicken enchiladas), but fond food memories urged me to order the pan seared sea scallops, which are served on a bed of creamy potato puree, a hearty portion of char-roasted cauliflower, poblano pepper sauce, and brussels sprouts.

Each component of this dish is so delicate, but equally hearty and comforting, and the flavors, colors, and differing textures make it utterly satisfying. Whenever I visit Cafe Condesa, I can’t help but be simultaneously impressed by the quality of the food and the fact that two cooks in a makeshift kitchen are the ones responsible. Even more amazing is the fact that they’ve managed to keep almost every menu item under $20.00, and there’s rarely a wait for a table…not to mention, it’s in the West Village.

The only disappointing part of the meal was the moment our waiter confirmed they were out of their delicious chocolate souffle. Probably for my own good. The pecan pie would have been a good replacement, but at that point it was 11:00pm and dessert felt like an obligation.

I’m happy a rediscovered an old favorite; Cafe Condesa is sure to be top of mind especially as venturing out of the West Village becomes more daunting as temperatures dip to the teens. Next on the list: Cafe Condesa for brunch.

Grade: A

Location: 183 West 10th Street @ 7th Ave South

Website: http://www.cafecondesa.com/

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Filed under Affordable Date, Beans and Rice, Cheap Eat, Erin's Favorites, Mexican, West Village

Cafe Gitane – new WV favorite

I’ve been to (and thoroughly enjoyed) the Cafe Gitane in Nolita, so I was thrilled to find out they had opened another location in the Jane Hotel, just five feet from my apartment. The West Village is in desperate need of affordable restaurants, so this unpretentious cafe with delicious and simple Moroccan-inspired food is heaven sent. The menu offers a great mix of light salads, plates to share, and a few heartier mains. The space has tons of light and is very inviting – and apparently well liked by models, artists, and Europeans alike. With eclectic mismatched furniture, a black and white tiled floor, large ceiling fans, a Victorian bar and servers in matching green dresses, the atmosphere is quite quirky, but charming nonetheless. This place is absolutely a new favorite and I intend it to be my go-to for casual dinners or evenings dining solo.
Last night was my second time trying Cafe Gitane in the hotel, and just as good as the first. My friend and I shared delicious avocado toast to start – big chunks of avocado, garnished with pepper flakes and a hint of citrus, spread on top of hearty, homemade multigrain toast. The combo was delectable. For our entrees, we had the hearts of palm and roasted chicken salad with a light lemon vinaigrette, and the famous cous cous with merguez sausage.
The cous cous is served as a tower beneath a massive blob of hummus, which acts as a wonderfully smooth compliment to the mass of grain. The merguez is smoky, salty, and cooked almost to a crisp; delicious as a cous cous side as well.

For dessert, we had the warm chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla gelato (straight from Italy as our waiter professed). We refrained from speaking for a few minutes so we could demolish both dishes. The food is great, the prices are even better, and the ambiance is just what I need after a hectic day at work – soothing, mysterious, and calm. Tables are easy to come by in the evening, but I predict that this place will blow up before long.

Address: 113 Jane Street at West Street in the Jane Hotel
Website: not yet created

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Filed under Affordable Date, African, Brunch, Cheap Eat, Fun Group Dinner, Mediterranean, West Village