Coffee & Pastries

One of life’s little pleasures is the neighborhood coffee shop – especially when they also serve yummy pastries. Here are three good spots – 1 an old standby, 2 brand new:

Bluebird Coffee Shop

This gem of a place is my morning go to – every day I stop in for a latte and maybe a scone or muffin before descending into the F train to make my way to soul-less midtown. They serve Counter Culture coffee and some quality eats, like the BLT on a croissant or the egg sandwich with bacon and Swiss on a cheddar-chive biscuit.

Sole criticism: about 6 months ago they were taken over my new management who saw fit to remove the jalapeño jam that used to accompany the aforementioned egg sandwich. Please join me in petitioning them to bring it back!

mmmm, coffee

Vital Statistics:
Location: 72 East 1st Street just west of 1st Ave
Subway: F to 2nd Ave
Website: www.bluebirdcoffeeshop.com
Prices: $4.25 for a latte, $3-6 for pastries and sandwiches

Prima Strada

This place just opened down the street from Bluebird from the guys at Ninth Street Espresso. The space is all exposed brick with two long trestle tables and high chairs with the bar at the far end. Coffee is served 8-5, then dinner starts and goes til 1am.

They serve pastries from François Payard – I sampled the ham and cheese croissant which was delish. Their food menu for lunch/dinner looks good too so I’ll be returning soon.

Vital Statistics:
Location: 58 East 1st Street between 1st and 2nd Ave (and more specifically between Prune and Bluebird Cafe)
Subway: F to 2nd Ave
Website: if they’ve got one, I can’t find it
Prices: $4.50 for a latte, $5.50 for a stuffed croissant; dinner mains $15-22

Dominique Ansel Bakery

Another newly opened joint, this one is on the West Side on Spring St. The draw here is really the baked goods and the headline item is Dominique’s (a former Bouley pastry chef) kouign amann, which is like a croissant covered in sugar and butter and baked again. It is some kind of good. I also sampled a Cannelé de Bordeaux, an eggy creation that’s crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside – kind of like a very dense popover with a hint of vanilla. Washed down with a cup of the Chef’s not-too-sweet-and-very-rich Hot Chocolate, it was the perfect start to a crisp fall Saturday.  Oh, and they serve lunch, too.

Vital Statistics:
Location: 189 Spring Street between Thompson and Sullivan
Subway: A, C, E to Spring Street
Website: www.dominiqueansel.com
Prices: $4 for a hot chocolate, pastries $3-6 each; see the menu here.

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Brunch @ Hundred Acres

Hundred Acres is not a new spot so it is rather distressing that I had not been before, but better late than never I suppose.

My friend Carrington suggested it for our official New York homecoming catch up brunch so a few weeks ago Saturday that’s where we met at 1:00 pm.

The first thing that caught my eye was actually the condiments on our table. Alongside the glass jar of sea salt was one with what looked like dirt. We were informed that it was in fact urfa pepper and it was black spicy and smokey smelling.

urfa & salt

We started with some coffee, to help perk us up and prepare us for the Bloody Marys that were on the way. Well, I had a Bloody on the way, Carrington opted for a mimosa and they also had some other yummy sounding cocktails including one with aperol, cucumber and grapefruit.

you had me at shucked oyster

I have not always been a Bloody Mary fan but over the past couple years have developed my taste and am now a pretty faithful devotee. So it was very exciting to see that Hundred Acres had not one, not two, but four different kinds on their menu. Obviously I ordered the Hampton Shore Mary which came with an oyster on top.

Then, the challenge was deciding what to eat. We agreed to share a bunch of dishes, a few small and one main (I have trouble maintaining friendships with people who are not into sharing).

We settled on melt in your mouth pork tater tots served with pickled peppers; pork meatballs that arrived bathed in a spicy tomato sauce atop a soggy piece of bread with queso fresco; super light and fluffy ricotta fritters with just-the-right-sweet syrup; and breakfast sausage with poached eggs.

tots (don't put these in your pocket)

balls & fritters

We were seriously full and very satisfied by the time we left.

Restaurant notes: there is a cute garden space, glassed over in winter, and a nice long bar, which I consider an absolute necessity for any restaurant – where else are you going to wait for your date or eat alone and not feel awkward taking up a whole table?  Service was ok – a little slow at times, but it was peak weekend brunch time so I can’t complain too much.

the dining room

Vital Statsitics:
Location: 38 MacDougal Street between Prince Street and Houston Street
Subway: A, C, E to Spring Street or the 1, 2 to Houston
Website: http://hundredacresnyc.com
Prices: Brunch mains run about $15-18 each.  Our bill was $45 each for food, 1 cocktail apiece and tip.