When you are scouring Soho for a breakfast spot, the Cupping Room Cafe is your best non-diner option.

21 January 2010

You know how no one in Soho (minus delivery persons) go out to breakfast. So when my client wanted to meet in Soho for breakfast, I had a minor panic attack. Balthazaar? No siree. My editor and I tried that a few weeks ago, and it was tourist hell.

My friend suggested a neighborhood favorite on West Broadway called The Cupping Room Cafe. I had been there for dinner and was less than impressed but had few choices open before ten, so I decided to give it a Cupping Room Cafe NYCgo. The atmosphere is a bit blah. It’s too rustic/indoors/restaurant for breakfast but would be too cafe-esque for dinner. But if you can get past that, you get the food.

Basically everything you could possibly want for breakfast they can cook for you. They make waffles (whole wheat A-mazing waffles), oatmeal with berries, brown sugar, raisins…whatever, stuffed french toast. Yes, I said “stuffed french toast” complete with cream cheese, granola nut and raisin. I don’t even like raisins on things, but this was so sweet slash tart with melt-in-your-mouth yumminess I thought I might faint. In terms of baked goods, you name it, they carry it. I’m not sure who/where the baked goods come from and the waiter pretended he didn’t know what I was talking about when I inquired.

The eggs! You can have any omelet any way you want. They serve delicious eggs benedict, florentine, or customized eggs benedict. My favorite side was the chicken sausage (avove). The whole experience was delicious and best of all, transpired before 9 a.m.

The Cupping Room Cafe opens for breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and has a quiet, kind group of locals who defy Soho norms and create a peaceful start to their day.

The Cupping Room Cafe  corner of Broome & W. Broadway 212.925.2898

Emma Dinzebach

Posted by Emma Dinzebach at 12:00 AM
bargain news , Restaurants |

With the opening of Emporio last April, I no longer have to fly to Italia to enjoy aperitivo.

12 November 2009

Part of the reason I love Italy more than life itself is the daily array of aperitivo. Italian restaurants provide a savory post-work sanctuary by offering what is basically free food. You are expected to purchase a beverage, and then allowed full reign of the restaurants aperitivio selection, which can range from a full meal to smaller traditional appetizers. For a lad or lass on a budget or someone just looking to snack while they unwind with vino, aperitivo time is amazing.

Emporio NYC NolitaThe millionth reason I love Nolita: with the opening of Emporio last April, I no longer have to fly to Italy to enjoy aperitivo.  From 5-7 p.m. The local Italian joint, modeled after a 1920’s grocery, is packed on weeknights with happy patrons enjoying Aurora (Soho and BK) owner’s latest neighborhood venture. And neighborhood-ish it is. Every night is packed with downtown dwelling expats – French, Italian, Aussie. In addition to providing a nice atmosphere for friendly single mingling, the mixed crowd indicates Emporio got the whole Euro-vibe right.

And the aperitivio – amazing. Stuzzichini, pizzettes and a variety of antipasti taste delicious especially with $5 sangria. They also offer a free drink refill (2 for 1) during aperitivio. And if all of this proves such a great experience you are tempted to go back, go for brunch. The strapazzate (scrambled eggs, goat cheese, smoked salmon on crostini) and the frittate (ham, wild mushroom, mozzarella) are both delicious. The brunch pre-fixe costs $15 and drink refills just $5 for the boozy crowd. Um, that’s me.

Emma Dinzebach

Posted by Emma Dinzebach at 12:00 AM
bargain news , Restaurants |

Not your mama's mac and cheese.

1 October 2009

Remember when I said the mac and cheese at Delicatessen hurt my stomach. Well, they must have read that and laughed in my pretty face because the creative masterminds behind Cafeteria and it’s Soho sister have launched their newest ode to America’s cheesiest staple – Macbar. Between Delicatessen and McNally Jackson on Prince street you will find a glowing orange light. If you’re distracted trying to catch a glimpse of Chuck Bass, you could very well miss it. It’s teeny tiny.
Macbar NYC

Macbar sort of reminds me of the Rice to Riches of mac and cheese, albeit smaller and more futuristic. There are three, maybe four two top tables on the left, a standing bar or trash section on the right and you order due south. A flat screen menu highlights the day’s mac and cheeses, and your order shoots out on the right. They have duck confit mac and cheese, lobster mac and cheese, chicken mac and cheese with chipotle or cayenne pepper or something spicy that has since slipped my mind. There is a pizza-esque mac and cheese with basil and tomato sauce. Pick that one. That one is good.

Then you can add some ranch (gross) or bacon and breadcrumb (gross again) or pepper (okay, we’ll take it) and head out. Yeah, you have to head out because it’s teeny in there. So why love Macbar? Mainly because it’s open late, so after you have too many cocktails you can stuff your face with noodles rather than tacos. When you have on six inch heels La Esquina seems very far away. However, no guarantees you won’t wake up with a belly ache.

Macbar 54 Prince Street between Lafayette and Spring; 212-226-8877

Emma Dinzebach

Posted by Emma Dinzebach at 12:00 AM
bargain news , Restaurants |

La Esquina vs. Cafe Habana in the Battle of the Mexican Corn.

13 August 2009

Remember when you had a t-shirt that said “Team Aniston” or “Team Jolie”? Imagine one with a corn on the cob sketch and printed on the bottom “Team Habana” or “Team Esquina.” Which one would you buy? I know; it’s a really hard question, but one I was set on solving. Having resided in Nolita for the past five years, I’ll give it to Cafe Habana for being the neighborhood corn making veteran. But this is New York! And what are we if not competitive. So along came La Esquina and their hoity toity downstairs and Yukons parked outside and yadda yadda and John Mayer looking all fine.

Unfortunately, it took me a while to warm up to the idea of friendly on top, snobby on bottom. (And being a neighborhood regular, I never even experienced the snobby on bottom first hand. Thus, it took me a bit to warm up to “Skeener,” as my brother calls it. But once I did, I realized there are some wonderful palate pleasers Skeener does that Habana does not. For instance the soup and the chicken tacos with cabbage. On the other hand, no one rivals Habana’s mole or the rice and beans or the Cuban pork sandwich.

Ah, such the dilemma. Well, fortunately there is enough difference – after all, Habana is Cuban – that one isn’t forced to make a decision unless, you want corn. If you have never had the corn, then honestly, you are not a New Yorker or you’ve had braces since moving to Gotham. It is buttery, spicy, limey deliciousness dipped in Mexican cotija cheese. So here it goes, the face off, the battle, the true but biased, somewhat honest testament to years of research on who has the best Mexican corn.

La Esquina    cafe habana

Personally, I like when the corn is a little charred on the outside, and sometimes Cafe Habana doesn’t really get enough char action for me. Buuuut… the guy who makes it and has that big barrel of corn and just keeps grilling it and grilling it all day long is just so sweet. I don’t think they sell as much corn at Skeener, but it could also be because the order comes with just one corn, not two. At Cafe Habana there are two corns per order, which is an advantage unless you’re ordering by yourself because you will eat both. Don’t let the word corn fool you. It may be a vegetable, but Mexican corn is no health food.

Delivery: Cafe Habana wins hands down. I think the foil paper La Esquina wraps their corn in keeps the heat in too much making the kernels a bit mushy. I live super close to La Esquina, so if it gets mushy in the block and half to my apartment I can’t imagine living on Houston and Mott.

But when someone asks me which I prefer, right off the top of my head I say La Esquina. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it is always perfectly charred…? Or maybe because it’s closer to me. If Cafe Habana could consistently char their corn properly every single time, then maybe… Ah, hell. It’s a tie.

Bring floss.

Cafe Habana  17 Prince Street @ Elizabeth; 212-625-2001 

La Esquina 106 Kenmare @ Lafayette St; 212-613-7100

Emma Dinzebach


Posted by Emma Dinzebach at 12:00 AM
bargain news , Restaurants |

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