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)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lazy Latte Log: Third Rail Coffee

After doing a quickie post on Ninth Street Espresso, I decided to make these brief coffee reviews into a series — Lazy Latte Logs (see what I did there? With the alliteration? *high-fives a million angels*). Each Lazy Latte Log will feature (most likely) a cup of latte from coffee shops with a short blurb — hence the "Lazy" — of what I liked and disliked. I'll shoot for uploading these weekly, but I won't make any guarantees since, you know, life happens.

So for this week, it's Third Rail Coffee in the EV.

TL;DR: ★★★☆☆

Latte ($3.75)

I'd first noticed Third Rail Coffee in its original location, Greenwich Village, but never got a chance to try it until today, when my friend and I went in for a quick post-yoga caffeine fix. Much like most trendy, nonchain coffee shops, this no-frill, simplistic place had very little space, with only a few tables and seats for to-stay customers.

The service was swift, and the prices weren't too bad, but the latte was kind of disappointing. While I did enjoy how strong the drink was, something about the taste and texture was off. The ratio of bitterness to milkiness was not as balanced as expected; it was definitely a little too bitter (probably even for a shot of espresso), which made the aftertaste slightly unpleasant. The texture was also kind of weird — most certainly not as smooth and silky as I'd hoped — and a bit gritty and grainy.

All in all, I wouldn't say it was a total waste of $3.75, but Third Rail would not be the first place I think of when looking for the best cup of latte.

Bonus pic: cappuccino (also $3.75) and latte

Friday, March 7, 2014

It's Back!: Kefi

TL;DR: ★★★★★

A beautiful Greek restaurant with great food, polite staff and reasonable prices.

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

Price: $-$$
Number of visits: 2

86th St. & Amsterdam Ave.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Update: Cafe Henri Closes for Undisclosed Reasons

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

OK, in all seriousness, I just read an Eater article that announced the shutting down of Cafe Henri. Obviously, I'm very sad to see one of my 5-star restaurants go, especially since I only got to visit once (and it was fantastic!).

RIP

According to Eater, Cafe Henri closed this past Sunday for unknown reasons, and the owners couldn't be reached. But apparently, there's a sister restaurant in Long Island City called Casa Enrique, specializing in Mexican food. Though I'm sure it won't be the same as the adorable French cafe I immediately fell in love with, I definitely will have to check out the Mexican counterpart.

But for now, au revoir, Cafe Henri. I'll miss you and your very affordable, high-quality crepes and comedically huge cappuccinos :(

Monday, March 3, 2014

Update: Boozy Brunch at Calle Ocho

TL;DR:

Yes, the complimentary unlimited sangria special during brunch is great, but food-wise, dinner is way better.

The infamous sangria and yucca buns, plus muffins and black bean spread
 (81st St. & Columbus Ave.)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Lazy Latte Log: Ninth Street Espresso

TL;DR: ★★★★★


Flowers, Wi-Fi info, cup sizes, espresso machine
10th St. & Ave. B, among other locations

Amazingly smooth, silky and luxurious latte. Not too bitter, not too milky. Gotta hand it to Ninth Street Espresso for the best latte I've EVER had.

Loved the super minimalistic and quaint space in the Tompkins Square location. Not too many tables/seats, so it's not the most ideal place if you plan on staying a while.

Baristas were nice, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were a tad coffee-snobby. According to a friend, you can get in trouble for calling a latte "espresso with milk," which is what's on the menu.

Kinda pricey, but that was expected, especially since they're so famous. Definitely worth $4 for the latte.

Not the prettiest but definitely the most delicious latte