What’s On… Clinton Street? (Between Stanton and Rivington)

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

What’s On… Clinton Street? (Between Stanton and Rivington)

Lower East Side

Clinton

Clinton Street’s way east address is deterrent for some, making the gentrification factor slightly less than other parts of the LES, but those who do venture to Clinton Street are pleasantly surprised to find a long a varied strip of food and nightlife destinations.  However, it wasn’t long ago that the Lower East Side’s underbelly called Clinton home.  It wasn’t until 1999 when Wylie Dufresne helped to put 71 Clinton on the map that things started to turn around.  Clinton Street’s not so recent past also warrants a tour. It was on Clinton Street that Fredericka “Marm” Mandelbaum’s original storefront stood. From here, Mandelbaum saw millions of dollars worth of stolen goods pass through in the mid 19th century. She also ran a school for aspiring pickpockets and robbers which is said to have been right next door to a police precinct.

35 Clinton Street – Donnybrook

This Irish pub seated at the corner of Clinton and Stanton can usually be caught under maximum capacity (which is more to say than for most bars in the LES) bringing those who like a casual drink with good friends back time and time again.  A 12 – 15 dollar brunch special serves its purpose in a ‘hair of the dog’ sort of way.
Donnybrook on Urbanspoon
 

37 Clinton Street – Atlas Cafe

The H & H bagels served at Atlas Cafe make it a worthwhile stop if you’re in the area around breakfast time.  Other menu offerings include quiches and paninis with a variety of vegetarian offerings. Coffee suffices and free WiFi is another selling point for most.

Atlas Café on Urbanspoon

58 Clinton Street – Temple of Ankh

Most agree that Temple of Ankh is nothing to get excited about – but really, what hookah bar lives up to the hype anyway?  Food, service, and decor-wise it’s pretty much unanimous that this place lives up to the standard of other so-so hookah places although the milk and Sprite hookah varieties do add some unconventional fun to the mix.

 

50 Clinton Street – wd~50

Wylie Dufresne’s acclaimed restaurant wd~50 celebrates 10 years this year.  In case you haven’t heard – WD~50’s Wylie Dufresne is somewhat of a mad scientist when it comes to your dinner plate.  Molecular gastronomy paired with precision and attention to detail make for a culinary experience you won’t soon forget.  To celebrate WD~50’s 10th anniversary, try a tasting menu from some of the past 10 years’ best dishes!

wd-50 on Urbanspoon

63 Clinton Street – Fatta Cuckoo

The seasonal menu at Fatta Cuckoo is all about coming together to have a good time over good food.  Comfort food focused items like fried chicken or their signature key lime pie comprise the menu and an enticing cocktail selection rounds out the scene.  The “drunch” brunch special is what keeps most people coming back – at $25 for 3 quality cocktails and an entree, who can complain? – Even when you’re sitting on top of your next door neighbor.

Fatta Cuckoo on Urbanspoon

 

63 Clinton Street – Cube Sushi

The BYO status of Cube 63 has regulars coming back for a boozy good time before a night on the town, but can’t seem to keep new clientele looking for satisfying sushi due to its lack of fresh ingredients.  Try to stay away if you’re not looking to lose your lunch.

Cube Sushi Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

67 Clinton Street – Barramundi

The always crowded, kitschy bar who once called Ludlow home is now tucked away on Clinton waiting to be rediscovered. You’ll want to try their sangria and stay for their house infused vodkas.  A 2 for 1 happy hour every night until 8 sweetens the deal.  Through a door in the back lies a secret upstairs for a more refined crowd than downstairs…

Barramundi on Urbanspoon

 

67 Clinton Street (Upstairs) – 2nd Floor on Clinton

A quiet library setting for no more than groups for 4 awaits up the stairs from energetic Barramundi.  Sip artfully crafted cocktails and enjoy artisan chocolate truffles by Roni – Sue.  Ring the bell next to the door marked ‘private’ to be escorted upstairs to this haven of sorts nestled deep in the Lower East Side.

*2nd Floor on Clinton is only open Wednesday – Saturday.

 

68 Clinton Street – Pig and Khao

Leah Cohen of Top Chef fame and the Fatty crew have teamed up to create Pig and Khao – a modern take on Southeast Asian cooking.  Stop by for classic Filipino favorites like sizzling sisig (pig head) or a tasty Thai red curry.  This gem isn’t quite on the radar yet, so stop by while the waits are short!

*The $1 beer happy hour is one of the best deals in the city.

 
Pig & Khao on Urbanspoon
 

69 Clinton Street – Prosperity Dumpling

Another one of the best deals in the city – Prosperity’s pork and chive dumplings come 4 for $1 at this LES location (5/$1 at their Eldridge St. locale).  What this place lacks in decor and service, the dumplings more than make up for in value and flavor.  Stop out of your way for these things, you’ll be glad you did.

 
Prosperity Dumpling on Urbanspoon

71 Clinton Street – Izakaya DoDomPa

This Japanese pub is exactly what the doctor ordered in this part of town.  Quality izakaya at fair prices make DoDomPa a great stop if you’re looking to fill your belly and have a few drinks with friends before a night on the town.  Their Nagoya chicken wings are stand out and fans say they are just happy they can travel somewhere other than St. Marks to enjoy the food and atmosphere of quality Izakaya.

 

71 Clinton Street – San Marzano

The $40 all you can eat and drink special is what has rowdy groups coming back for time and time again, but it’s the pizza with namesake San Marzano tomatoes that keeps us coming back.

Go at an off time and enjoy the regular menu with regular people (read: not drunk and angry) or stop by on the weekend until 2am for an always satisfying slice.

 

San Marzano on Urbanspoon

72 Clinton Street – Cibao

You won’t stop by Cibao for its decor or service, but instead to sit down to a good, hearty meal rounded out with rice, beans, and tostones.  It’s a Dominican diner, unglorified and unapologetic and doing its thing for decades.  If tripe is your thing – don’t miss out on their Mondongo.

*Planning a party?  Cibao also caters.

San Marzano on Urbanspoon

 

 

Home of Manhattan’s Best Banh Mi Sandwich – Review of Sao Mai

BY ELENA MANCINI

203 First Ave.
East Village
(212) 358-8880 / Sao Mai 

East of the East Village bustle and trendiness, this family-run East Village Vietnamese restaurant serves traditional Vietnamese fare and the best Banh Mi Sandwiches on the Manhattan side of the East River.

Vegetarian Bahn Mi

Available in six varieties including pho, sliced pork, grilled chicken and vegetarian, these sandwiches make a quick, nutritious, flavor-packed meal that’s easy on the wallet (priced between $6-$7). The Bahn Mi are prepared on baguettes are consistently fresh and crusty with a soft and chewy middle. Independent of the filling you choose, the kitchen always strikes the right balance between bread and ingredients. Their vegetarian Bahn Mi is among my favorite comfort-food lunches. Prepared on two warm halves of choice baguette, they’re stuffed with toothsome strands of sauteed bok choy, straw mushrooms, seedless cucumbers, shredded carrot and abundant swaths of cilantro, the sandwiches and seasoned with lemongrass,  sriracha mayonnaise, that provides a subtle and reverberating pitch of complex heat. In sum, it’s a light, filling lunch that delivers high-flavor rewards.

Pho’ Sao Mai

Front: Summer Rolls; Far: Spring Rolls

Lest one think Sao Mi is just about Bahn Mi, flavor mavens and fans of traditional Vietnamese fare will find other  sections of its menu will prove well worth exploring. The Pho Sao Mai will not disappoint. A flavorful broth, rich in tender strips of brisket, sprouts, rice noodles and a medley of herbs will consistently hit the spot. Adding appeal to  Sao Mi’s attractions is its steal of a lunch menu, which includes the choice of an appetizer, entree and a soft drink, all for $10. Sweetening things further,  both the Bahn Mi and the Pho are included in this deal!

Ga Gary – Chicken Curry

With a wide variety of vegetarian options on its menu, Sao Mai is also a smart choice for a low-key dinner that guarantees value, quality and flavor. Pity that wait staff has not yet mastered the walk-in dinner crowd on weekends. During these times, the  friendly service  can turn into a source of frustration for those who do not suffer extended waits and uneven food delivery times lightly.

Sao Mai on Urbanspoon

What’s On…Chrystie Street? (Part 2)

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY


The northern half of Chrystie gives way to a Whole Foods and a swank new apartment complex near where it intersects Houston Street. It is also the site of the Chrystie Street connection, a major subway connection and the first and only section of the Second Avenue subway line to be completed to date; evidence that there is no stopping the gentrification as it makes its way down Chrystie. Visit Chrystie while there are still reminders of why we love the Lower East Side and Chinatown!

Tenderloin steak at Sammy’s

157 Chrystie Street – Sammy’s Roumanian
It’s hard not to have fun at Sammy’s, an old school Jewish joint that never gets old whether you’ve just discovered it or have been going since the 80s. You’ll feel like you’re at your best friend’s Bar Mitzvah each and every time, so get ready to get up, get dancing, and pour on the schmaltz!

Tenderloin steak at Sammy’s

161 Chrystie Street – Dixon Place
Part Lounge, part performance space – Dixon Place has been catering to the performance art scene since the 80s, though this particular location has only been opened since 2008. Come with an open mind to support the budding talent and get comfortable, because you’ll never know quite what to expect here.

Sammy's Roumanian Steakhouse on Urbanspoon
167 Chrystie Street – New Beer Distributors
New Beer Distributors has one of the largest selections of beer for retail sale in the city, along with a few taps so you can take a growler away. Pick up a frequent growler customer card and get rewarded for your beer purchases!

189 Chrystie Street – The Box
One of the most raucous shows in the city, The Box puts on vaudeville-esque shows for the 21st century New Yorker whose unsurpassed shock tolerance may just be surpassed here. Reserving a table can get pricey and the door is tough without one, but most agree The Box is a must at least once in this lifetime for a late night romp.

191 Chrystie Street, 2F – Freemans
While the address says Chrystie, look instead for Freemans at the end of Freeman Alley off of Rivington. This trendy traditional American restaurant focuses on local produce and meat paired with excellent small batch spirits. Stop by for their quieter weekend brunch for a feel of ‘Old New York’ while noshing on some classics like their hot artichoke dip or smoked trout.
Freemans on Urbanspoon


203 Chrystie Street – Neuman’s
One of New York’s premier catering services, Neuman’s, calls Chrystie home. Top quality service, food, and presentation at reasonable rates has made Neuman’s a standout among the many caterers in New York for over 30 years.

229 Chrystie Street – Subway
The Subway chain of restaurants was established in 1965 in Bridgeport, CT by a 17 year old boy as a way to make money to pay for his college education. Nearly 50 years later the company boasts more than 34,000 locations around the world, making it the #3 largest chain restaurant.

 

Fare to Please Both Bubbeh and Foodie – Review of Balaboosta

BY CRAIG CAVALLO

Photo by Craig Cavallo

When you eat at a restaurant that serves foreign fare, the food should act as a portal.  It should open doors that warp space and time and take you on a tour of the country’s cuisine.  The success of the journey is entirely up to the chef, and in the case of Balaboosta, Einat Admony proves to be a wonderful tour guide.  We were introduced to her culinary stylings in 2005, when Taim was opened in the West Village out of a longing for the street food of Tel Aviv.  Balaboosta results from a desire to serve these authentic Middle Eastern flavors in a more formal setting.  The restaurant will have its second birthday this year, though something tells me it’s going to skip the terrible two’s.

Balaboosta is a Yiddish word that means “perfect housewife” and the atmosphere is ripe with these sentiments.  It feels as if you’ve walked into the chef’s apartment.  A picture of her aunt is the first thing you see, and the only thing to dress the white brick wall it hangs on.  It’s intentionally lit and hints at the significance of tradition and heritage that comes forth in the cuisine.

The beverage program dances a sensual tango around the fact that they don’t have a full liquor license.  Wine based cocktails and wines by the glass prove to be excellent distractions from the long waits.  There is a white on offer from Rueda, Spain.  It is here, planted at high elevations, that the acidic verdejo grape thrives.  It is blended with a small amount of sauvignon blanc and the result is a very aromatic, bright, and mineral driven wine.  Four thousand miles away from home it shines in the glass and makes for an utterly delightful way to start an evening.

The menu is predominantly Middle Eastern but shows influences from neighboring Mediterranean countries, particularly among the small plates.  Patatas bravas ($7), a staple in Spanish tapas, are served beneath a dusting of zaatar and accompanied with a garlic aioli.  Crispy cauliflower ($10) comes to us via the coastal city of Palermo in Sicily and is balanced here with currants, pine nuts, and lemon.  Harissa oil, inspired by the North African chili sauce, adds a bright streak to the fried olives ($7) that come piled above organic labneh.  The golden quinoa salad ($7) is a reflection of Balaboosta’s roots and is the perfect harmony of all five basic tastes.  It is incredibly light and refreshing and the addition of fried shallots adds a crunch that makes the palate dance the hora.

There is a genuine care behind this cooking, an effort put forth to make Balaboosta unique.  Many restaurants feature fish roe, even fish roe sauce, though to my knowledge, no restaurant has made a wasabi infused flying fish roe and used it to dress shrimp that have been wrapped in delicate strands of phyllo dough before a quick visit to the fryer.  And when grilled lamb chops ($28) come to table tucked under a blanket of Persian lime sauce you can only hope it’s going to be as good as it looks.  It is.  The acid in the limes is the Jeremy Lin assist to Tyson Chandlers rich, charred lamb.  It’s good.  Israeli good.

Perhaps the brick wall was painted white so as to act neutral, to better allow the bright food to color the room.  Maybe it’s a carryover from Israeli decor, where interiors are painted white to help cool down the rooms from the hot, Mediterranean climate.  Whatever the case, I’m sure it was intentional.  Nothing seems to be done randomly here.  The staff is kind and precise.  They do everything to make you feel as if you were in their home aside from saying, “Welcome to our home.”  Balaboosta is a restaurant that demands a return visit with elegant subtlety.  The menu showcases a modern take on Middle Eastern food that is deeply rooted in tradition.  The only thing it lacks is a bad choice.

Balaboosta on Urbanspoon

2nd Floor on Clinton- “For Those Who Know”

BY STEPHANIE AMY COLLAZO
2nd Floor on Clinton
67 Clinton Street
Lower East Side, NYC, 10002
Enter through Barramundi

Thursday, Friday and Saturday
7 p.m. – 2 a.m. last seating at 1 a.m.

http://2ndflooronclinton.com

2nd Floor on Clinton Seating Area; Photo courtesy of picasaweb.google.com/powe.tony/2ndFloorOnClinton2010

2nd Floor on Clinton Seating Area; Photo courtesy of picasaweb.google.com/powe.tony/2ndFloorOnClinton2010

Unlike other speakeasy style bars there is no password involved in gaining entry to the 2nd Floor on Clinton, people just have to know where to go.

Upon entering Barramundi I was both nervous and excited, I had never been to a speakeasy style bar before and couldn’t tell if I was headed in the right direction or not.  I made my way to the back of the bar where through some glass tiles I could see a staircase.  I was sure those were the stairs to 2nd Floor on Clinton but just couldn’t figure out if the entrance was the door clearly marked Private or if there was some top secret hidden entrance behind the door clearly leading to the restrooms.

Entrance to Barramundi

Entrance to Barramundi

Luckily I had scheduled a meeting with Tony Powe, owner of both Barramundi and 2nd Floor on Clinton, because when I went to the bartender claiming to have no idea where I was going she told me he would be right up rather than playing a joke as Powe had explained she rather enjoyed doing to people looking for the secret bar.

“One time she told someone they had to go into the bathroom and flush the toilet three times and a secret door would open,” said Powe, as we made our way to the upstairs seating area.

The Topsy-Turvy; Photo courtesy of picasaweb.google.com/powe.tony/2ndFloorOnClinton2010

The Topsy-Turvy; Photo courtesy of picasaweb.google.com/powe.tony/2ndFloorOnClinton2010

Mixologist Ken Eberle, a 16-year veteran of the NYC bar scene, created the cocktail menu.  A few of the drinks on the menu had short stories explaining why they had their names.

The Topsy-Turvy, my drink of choice, was named for a donkey owned by Powe’s great grandfather.  Ginger infused Death’s Door Vodka, honey liqueur, fresh lime and club soda make up the Topsy-Turvy.  The drink was delicious; it was sweet and the ginger lightened up the sweetness of the honey.

The Topsy-Turvy; Photo courtesy of picasaweb.google.com/powe.tony/2ndFloorOnClinton2010

The Maidens Prayer cocktail

I also tried the Maiden’s Prayer cocktail which was made of Castarede Armagnac “Selection,” Rhum JM VSOP, Cointreau, vanilla extract, sweet cream and nutmeg.  This drink was a little strong for my taste but it had a lovely after taste.

Patrons of the bar can also order from a selection of handmade truffles (3 for $9) supplied by local chocolatier Roni-Sue’s.  2nd Floor on Clinton carries six different truffles from Roni Sue’s cocktail collection including Absinthe, Margarita, Manhattan and Dark & Stormy.

The Tauster and Topsy-Turvy cocktails with a selection of chocolates

The Tauster and Topsy-Turvy cocktails with a selection of chocolates

The Absinthe truffle had a nice licorice undertone that one would normally get from absinthe, and considering I am not a fan of dark chocolate,  the pairing makes it more than bearable.

The Dark & Stormy, my least favorite of the truffles, featured Gosling’s rum, fresh ginger and lime zest.  I didn’t quite get the lime zest flavor, and though  the sugared ginger placed on top of the truffle added a bit of sweetness I found it’s flavor to be over powered by the dark chocolate.

Finally there was the Margarita truffle, which had to be my favorite of the three truffles I sampled while visiting 2nd Floor.  Once you bite into the Margarita truffle you get a burst of citrus flavor from the creamy center and the sea salt sprinkled on top completes the margarita experience.

Bookcase and seating area 2nd Floor on Clinton; Photo courtesy of picasaweb.google.com/powe.tony/2ndFloorOnClinton2010

Bookcase and seating area 2nd Floor on Clinton; Photo courtesy of picasaweb.google.com/powe.tony/2ndFloorOnClinton2010

2nd Floor on Clinton has a very relaxing atmosphere.  They do not permit groups larger than four and only allow a limited number of guests to enter at a time.

Table service ensures that guests will pace their drinking while the calm music and small groups encourage speaking in hushed tones.

This place is the perfect place to start your night.  If you’re not sure if you are up for a night of drinking start at the 2nd Floor on Clinton, if you decide you want to get your booze on you can always head on down to Barramundi for contemporary music and typical bar drinks.

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Oohs and Oz – Review of Bondi Road

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

Bondi Road
153 Rivington Street
Lower East Side
212-253-5311/thesunburntcow.com

Burger with the Lot at Bondi Road

Burger with the Lot at Bondi Road

Looking for your Aussie fix?  Head to Bondi Road and enjoy the sights and sounds of Bondi Beach without ever having to leave Manhattan! Bondi Beach is a divey, beach themed spot teeming with the young and beautiful (if not slightly hipster) local crowd of New York.  Upon entering Bondi Road, you are greeted by the authentic Aussie staff and escorted to your tiny table.

I happened to be dining at Bondi Road for Saturday brunch, where $18 buys you your entree and endless cocktails. It was already late in the day when my friends and I arrived, so I opted for the Hamburger with the Lot.  Having no idea that “The Lot” was an Australian specialty, I was both surprised and giddy when my burger came out piled nearly eight inches high with melted cheese, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onion, a fried egg, pickled beets, pineapple, and bacon.

As I ate my way through the burger, I can’t say that all of the flavor combinations were spot on (pickled beets and pineapple, anyone?), and there was so much going on that the burger simply tasted like just another topping, but I certainly felt transported to Bondi Beach, although it certainly could have been the screwdrivers that our waiter kept feeding us. As a last treat, our waiter brought us a flavored shot called “The Brooke Shields”.  It was a blue concoction, possibly Hypnotiq based, and it was the perfect way to finish the meal adding to the carefree beach-y feel. For lunch and dinner Bondi Road specializes in a $10 “catch of the day”, a market fresh fish selection such as barramundi or their Tasmanian sea bass ordered your way either breaded, grilled, or fried.

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Bondi Road on Urbanspoon

A Swanky Lower East Side Staple – A Review of The Stanton Social

BY CAROL ONOFREY

The Stanton Social
99 Stanton Street
Lower East Side
212-995-0099/thestantonsocial.com

French onion soup dumplings – Photo courtesy of PetitChef.com

French onion soup dumplings – Photo courtesy of PetitChef.com

Since it’s opening in 2005, The Stanton Social has been a staple on the Lower East Side for inventive tapas in a swank setting, drawing the rich, famous, and fashionable from around the globe.  Although getting a reservation may be a bit difficult on some nights, the upstairs lounge is a great alternative to the downstairs dining room for stopping by to meet a few friends for a drink at the bar or grabbing a sexy banquet space perfect for lounging and snuggling while you sip on a signature drink from the diverse cocktail list.
*Try the Cucumber -Vanilla Cosmo ($13) for a light and refreshing cocktail to sip on while you gawk at the cute bartenders.

Executive chef/owner Chris Santos has created a plethora of comfort food and inspired tapas from around the world.  Standouts include the sweet and salty French onion soup dumplings ($12), served piping hot (don’t burn your mouth!) and covered with crisp and gooey cheese browned inside the broiler and the barbecue duck confit and black bean empanadas ($10), served with a blood orange jam and bursting with flavor and moist duck confit.  Other can’t miss dishes include the sinfully, too-rich-for-your-own-good ‘Kobe Philly’ ($9) with a truffle and goat cheese fondue, and the nori spiced tuna tartare roll ($13), a refreshing start to your meal.

Doughnuts with chocolate, caramel, and raspberry sauce. – Photo courtesy of NYCFoodGuy.com

Doughnuts with chocolate, caramel, and raspberry sauce. – Photo courtesy of NYCFoodGuy.com

Try two or three of these small plates per person and don’t forget dessert!  Classics like the warm homemade doughnuts and the double chocolate chip cookies are always a satisfying end to your meal.

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Stanton Social on Urbanspoon


Two sips of heaven: Review of D’Espresso

BY ELENA MANCINI

D’Espresso
100 Stanton St.
Lower East Side, Manhattan
212-982-7030 / despresso.com

Espresso Bar at D'Espresso

Espresso Bar at D'Espresso

Located in the heart of bohemian trendiness, stands D’Espresso, a sleek and shiny non-descript espresso bar with a decor-concept that could be exported to any international airport throughout the globe. While cold and characterless spaces are generally an immediate turn off for me, my taste buds and coffee-conditioned brain cannot resist the prospect of the being confronted with rich, robust flavors of an espresso done right.  And since a name as straightforward as D’Espresso evokes such a specialized approach to the beverage, I could not simply walk away without giving the place a try.

Employing high quality Danesi beans, D’Espresso baristas delivered just that:  a distinctly satisfying espresso that was muscular with balanced acidity and a wondrously thick patina of crema that lingered on the palate long after it was consumed, and served at the requisite hot temperature in preheated heavy pre-heated porcelain, I could not all too passionately begrudge its straightforward, no-frills to hospitality approach–to the point of lacking restroom facilities– for the two sips of heaven they deliver.  Why? Espressos this good simply don’t come by all that often outside of this beverage’s motherland, and even there one word of mouth wisdom and discernment are in order.

Cappuccino at D'Espresso

Cappuccino at D'Espresso

One forth of the way into it and still no end to the foam

One forth of the way into it and still no end to the foam

Happily, D’Espresso’s espresso accolades can be extended to its cappuccino. Made with the same Danesi beans and frothed into a hot meringue of milk and espresso, the cappuccino offers the perfect entree into the day and antidote to afternoon lulls. The under $5 double-shot skim caps that I’ve enjoyed there have been typically strong without excessive bitterness and made with a tight creamy froth that held past the quarter mark of the cup. As with the espresso, the cappuccino was served hot in pristine white, preheated Danesi porcelain.

For non-espresso drinkers, there’s little point of my recommending this place to you, but if you’re joining your espresso loving friends, the coffee bar also serves an array of Italian sodas and cold beverages.

There is also an assortment of tasty small sweets, danishes and baked goods to accompany the espresso experience and small tables and bar seating, which easily encourage a second round of these  eminently encore-worthy espressos and cappuccinos.

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D'Espresso Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Two sips of heaven: Review of D'Espresso

BY ELENA MANCINI

D’Espresso
100 Stanton St.
Lower East Side, Manhattan
212-982-7030 / despresso.com

Espresso Bar at D'Espresso

Espresso Bar at D'Espresso

Located in the heart of bohemian trendiness, stands D’Espresso, a sleek and shiny non-descript espresso bar with a decor-concept that could be exported to any international airport throughout the globe. While cold and characterless spaces are generally an immediate turn off for me, my taste buds and coffee-conditioned brain cannot resist the prospect of the being confronted with rich, robust flavors of an espresso done right.  And since a name as straightforward as D’Espresso evokes such a specialized approach to the beverage, I could not simply walk away without giving the place a try.

Employing high quality Danesi beans, D’Espresso baristas delivered just that:  a distinctly satisfying espresso that was muscular with balanced acidity and a wondrously thick patina of crema that lingered on the palate long after it was consumed, and served at the requisite hot temperature in preheated heavy pre-heated porcelain, I could not all too passionately begrudge its straightforward, no-frills to hospitality approach–to the point of lacking restroom facilities– for the two sips of heaven they deliver.  Why? Espressos this good simply don’t come by all that often outside of this beverage’s motherland, and even there one word of mouth wisdom and discernment are in order.

Cappuccino at D'Espresso

Cappuccino at D'Espresso

One forth of the way into it and still no end to the foam

One forth of the way into it and still no end to the foam

Happily, D’Espresso’s espresso accolades can be extended to its cappuccino. Made with the same Danesi beans and frothed into a hot meringue of milk and espresso, the cappuccino offers the perfect entree into the day and antidote to afternoon lulls. The under $5 double-shot skim caps that I’ve enjoyed there have been typically strong without excessive bitterness and made with a tight creamy froth that held past the quarter mark of the cup. As with the espresso, the cappuccino was served hot in pristine white, preheated Danesi porcelain.

For non-espresso drinkers, there’s little point of my recommending this place to you, but if you’re joining your espresso loving friends, the coffee bar also serves an array of Italian sodas and cold beverages.

There is also an assortment of tasty small sweets, danishes and baked goods to accompany the espresso experience and small tables and bar seating, which easily encourage a second round of these  eminently encore-worthy espressos and cappuccinos.

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D'Espresso Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Ganesha welcomes you: Review of Ayurveda Cafe

BY CLAIRE McCURDY

706 Amsterdam Avenue
(between 94th St & 95th St)
Upper West Side
(212) 932-2400
AyurvedaCafeNYC.com

Interior of Ayurveda Cafe'

Interior of Ayurveda Cafe'

The vegetarian Ayurveda Restaurant and Cafe is justly called one of the hidden treasures of the Upper West Side. From the beginning the customer recognizes s/he is walking into a very different world.  The place is painted *orange* on the exterior– with happy although slightly dilapidated gilt decorations. And you must traverse a maze of little orange doors before you arrive at the center of the restaurant.  Inside, the great benign elephant headed god Ganesha greets you. [Read more...]