Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Grab a: Spoon & Tbsp

TL;DR: ★★

Charming, casual brunch spot with pretty good food at reasonable prices.

Food: ★★★★☆
Ambiance: ★★☆☆☆
Staff: ★★★★☆

Price: $$
Number of visits: 1

(20th St. between 5th & 6th Aves.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lazy Latte Log: Perk Kafe

TL;DR: ★★☆☆☆

Cute, cozy venue, but the drinks are quite subpar.

My chai with milk ($4) and my friend's apple cider (closed lid) and croissant
(37th St. & 3rd Ave.)

On a rainy Sunday afternoon, I came to Perk Kafe in Midtown for a quick coffee date with a friend. While I was immediately enamored by the cafe's cozy, rustic vibe and decor, I was seriously underwhelmed by the quality and taste of my chai with milk (yep, I went with a chai instead of a regular latte because it was already quite late in the afternoon, and I didn't want the espresso to keep me up all night :x).

The chai spices and flavor, while strong, were definitely not well-balanced with the milk and sugar, making the drink way too spicy and even a bit bitter. The consistency was also kind of off — it wasn't as thick and milky as I usually prefer but rather quite watery and very thin. In the end, $4 seemed way too much for what this was, especially given the subpar quality and taste.

But as I said, this place does have a very nice venue for one to read his/her book or do some work. It's pretty quiet, and the big window in the front brings in a lot of nice, natural light even on a rainy day. However, seating is a bit limited as there are only two or three small tables and one semi-long communal table that seats about seven to eight people.

Though Perk isn't as well known as other coffee shops, I kind of had high expectations for it but unfortunately was disappointed. I may give it another chance and try their regular latte though, since everything deserves a second chance.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Best Bagel Bets: Bagels From Everywhere

In honor of a random weekend in which I went out for bagels and coffee twice, I've decided to make a list of four great places (and one not-so-great spot) to experience the ever-famous New York bagel. Here they are, going from my most favorite to least:

1. Ess-A-Bagel (21st St. & 1st Ave., 51st St. & 3rd Ave.)

Famous for being one of Anthony Bourdain's picks, Ess-A-Bagel just knocks it out of the bagel park. Service is super swift, the bagels are soft, chewy and fresh, and the spreads are amazingly rich, creamy and delicious. My favorite, from what I've had so far, is the apple cinnamon on whole wheat ($3.95), but I'm dying to try chocolate chip and berry berry spreads next.

Apple cinnamon on whole wheat everything because I messed up my order -_- ($3.95)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Lazy Latte Log: Birch Coffee

TL;DR: ★★★★★

Yummmmmmmmmm.

Latte ($3.50)
(14th St. & 7th Ave., among other locations)

For a quick, morning coffee session with a friend, I suggested we go to Birch Coffee, another place I'd been meaning to try. And I can see why it's all the rage — the coffee is indeed very good. I got my regular, latte with skim, which set me back $3.50. Not bad for a hipster-y, popular coffee shop.

The latte was silky-smooth as it slid down my throat, and it had an intoxicating aroma. The flavor was on the mild side, but it was definitely still prominent enough for me to appreciate the quality of the espresso. I wouldn't have minded if it was a little stronger, though, which is why I was on the fence about giving this four or five stars. But the muted-yet-still-rich taste was good enough for me to really enjoy this cup.

Years-old iPod Nano cameo. Who else still uses one of these???

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Free Dessert! However...: Taverna Kyclades

TL;DR: ★★☆☆☆ (more like 2.5 stars)

Polite service, decent lunch specials (with free dessert!), clean venue — but the food is mediocre at best.

Food: ★★☆☆☆
Ambiance: ★★★☆☆
Staff: ★★★☆☆

Price: $$
Number of visits: 1

Forgot to take a non-food picture of the place, so this'll do. Our spread!
(14th St. & 1st Ave.)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lazy Latte Log: Abraço Espresso

TL;DR: ★★★★☆

Very good but definitely not the best.

Piccolo latte with latte art that I accidentally messed up...oops
(7th St. & 1st Ave.)

Abraço had been on my list of coffee shops to try for a while, and I finally got a taste of their piccolo latte today. I came to this tiny, tiny space — no seating inside, only a bar for leaning, and a small two-person bench outside — around noon, and it was packed ... aka there were like five people.

I was originally gonna go for a regular latte with skim, but they unfortunately only had whole milk, which I usually can't handle due to its high fat content and strong flavor. So I asked for it with less milk than usual (which might've been a dumb, coffee-noob question now that I think about it), and the baristas suggested the piccolo — a caffe macchiato with a more even ratio of milk to espresso — which was just right for me.

This dinky cup set me back $3.50, but I wasn't too mad about it — had they not run out of skim, I probably would've gone for the $4 full-sized latte. However, for some reason, I wasn't too impressed by this drink. Sure, it was velvety smooth with an earthy tone, but there was no wow factor to it. I think it's because of the bland flavor — funny since I was just disappointed about Third Rail's latte last week because it was too bitter, but this one was surely a tad too milky for my taste. A little more depth of flavor from the espresso would've been nice.

That being said, I still want to come back because apparently their olive oil cake is bomb.com. And I'm curious about their latte with skim.

For more Lazy Latte Logs, click on the "Series" tag :P

Monday, March 17, 2014

Beautiful and Flavorful: Fig & Olive (Restaurant Week)

TL;DR: ★★★★☆

Great Restaurant Week deal; would come back for regular lunch.

Food: ★★★★☆
Ambiance: ★★★★★
Staff: ★★★★☆

Price:$$-$$$
Number of visits: 1

13th St. Between 9th & 10th Aves. (among other locations)