Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New York City: The Welterweights

One of the most striking dichotomies about New York is that for being such a big city, most of the space is tiny in comparison. Tucked into basements or squeezed into a building's alleyway, restaurants operate on a highly limited spatial budget. Inside these shoebox saloons we found some of the best places to snack. Because there are so many of these spots, this will be a two part sub-series. 

The single best cup of coffee in the world may be served by Stumptown Coffee Roasters. This outpost of a Portland institution serves rich and creamy lattes and forceful cappuccinos in an anteroom off the lobby of the Ace Hotel. The service staff is friendly and cheerful, despite being staffed mainly with hipsters. Just look at all those hats! And suspenders! But these hipsters are the cherubs of the caffeine heaven.

The most impressive aspect of the coffee at Stumptown was its temperature. The coffee is served hotter than warm but not scalding. Boiling hot coffee is a mistake too often made. When that mistake is made you end up spending ten minutes waiting for coffee to come to an acceptable temperature. There would place to do so as at Stumptown there are no tables, just a rail-cum-table on which to lean. If you look up through the large plate glass window, there is a  peek at the top of the Empire State Building. A fantastic cup of coffee with a wonderful view is not a bad way to start the day. 

Cafe 'ino came highly recommended from Bloggle and PNC Peter. It was the beginnings of a bustling brunch when we climbed into a two top right inside the door. Out from the kitchen came two bruschettas which delivered salty and bitter via its green and ricotta salata topped right hook and a knockout blow via Malliard sweetened onions and pungent cacio. With a fontina encrusted carriage of bread filled with a runny egg yolk, a few glasses of Aglianico, and a calm thumb through the paper, Cafe 'ino is the kind of place one could get used to.

A wandering tour of New York has to include a stop or three at dens of sin. Places where one can shed their inhibitions and do something really decadent and pleasureful. For us that was a stop at Dominique Ansel's narrow den of pastry in Soho. Marble and glass contain pastel colored jewels of delight. His macaroons were outstanding, the best being the pink raspberry filled with balsamic vinegar jelly. Or maybe we liked the miniature meringues which came in a plastic tube for both security and eye catching allure. In the back of the shop is a window onto the magic of this bakery. We sat enraptured as a cook formed macaroons, whipped egg whites, and prepared desserts. Free entertainment is always a plus. 


Celeste said...

If you're jonesing for Stumptown, Velvet on Magazine sells Stumptown's coffee (whole bean).

Rene said...

I am a big fan of Velvet. And it is tiny as well. Match in heaven, thanks for the reminder Celeste.

Rohan2Reed said...

My favorite cup of coffee in NYC is La Colombe Torrefaction on Lafayette at Prince. I will give Stumptown a try next time I'm up there.

hattie sparks said...

visitted Stumptown on my first-ever trip to NYC...incredible. was so happy to find out that Velvet serves it here in New Orleans. making another trip up there in May, will definitely have to check out your other recommendations!