Brunch & Gelato with Robyn! And a Small Dessert at Cafe Zaiya

I finally gotten the opportunity to eat with another (and more popular) food blogger, Robyn. You know? The “Girl Who Ate Everything.”

I actually e-mailed her about having breakfast or lunch with her a few weeks ago just before the week I start classes. Since she wasn’t a morning person like I am, we met at 11 AM. In my time, it’s the afternoon. Her time, she told me that this is earlier than what she would normally wake up. Oy. She reminds me of my friend, Seungmi: they’re both adorable, they like sleeping or napping, and they like to eat. I’m content. ^^

Anyways, the meeting place was at Florent. I always wanted to go here for a while and I haven’t gotten the chance, so I might as well eat here with Robyn.

When we went inside this restaurant, the decor reminds me of a diner with really dim lights (and the lights gave an orange glow to the place). The stainless steel counter where patrons can sit on stools, the friendly waiters and waitresses, and lots of locals eat here. It’s not scene-y as the nearby Pastis.

The menu has simple and familiar French bistro fare; they also have daily specials. Robyn ordered the “Special Sandwich” ($12.50; which is today’s special) which is basically a grilled Cajun spiced ahi tuna burger on a toasted English muffin with a side of fries. I ordered the standard fare of brunch: the Eggs Benedict with fries ($10). Here’s what our order looks like:

Robyn’s Tuna Burger

My Eggs Benedict

I’m sorry if the pictures look a little crappy; it’s just the poor lighting and the fact that I used my point and shoot camera instead of the SLR. Anyways, the food was good. Robyn’s burger was cooked perfectly: medium-rare. It was flavorful, slightly creamy from the avocado slices and the chipotle aioli (in other words, mayonnaise), spicy but not burning your mouth/throat from the chipotle aioli and the Cajun spices in the burger. (I know because she cut me a small piece.) Did I mention that it was huge?! Once Robyn put the other half of the English muffin on top, I just end up asking her, “How can you actually manage to wrap your mouth around that thing?” She ended up taking bites that go halfway (vertically) off the burger.

My eggs benedict was cooked to perfection: the tell-tale signs of the runny egg yolk (as you’ll see below). It tasted fine but I didn’t love it. I think it needed more salt but since my fries had salt, it balances out. I think I like Robyn’s burger more than my benedict. Hmmm… I almost forgot to mention, the fries were pretty good too: Hot, slightly crisp and salty.

Egg yolk ooze…

At the end of our meal, Robyn inquired the idea of dessert. Eating dessert in Florent is not what I had in mind, so we paid our check and walked around the area. Originally, I thought of going to Tea & Sympathy but we just wandered in to Chelsea Market. Robyn asked what I like to eat in here, so I pointed out a few things and places but when we passed by Buon Italia, she wanted gelato! Argh. I normally would’ve have thunk of eating ice cream or gelato in the dead of winter and it’s actually cold today but when we kept on walking down the Market, and L’Arte Del Gelato had someone giving out small samples of their cherry vanilla. When we tried it, it was agreed that it tasted really good.

L’Arte Del Gelato’s gelato… Mmm…. :p

We walked into their small stand of sorts, and actually sampled a couple of flavors before we bought a small cup of our own gelato. After pigging out on samples and being our indecisive selves, we finally made a decision after 5 minutes probably. Robyn ordered pistachio and strawberry. Oddly, she was feeling “fruity” instead of chocolate-y and she loves pistachio gelato. I ordered gianduja and marscapone. I must have my filling of chocolate. It’s a daily requirement.
Here’s the photo of our goods, when we found seating a couple of yards away:

All of the gelato flavors were intense, fresh, delicious, and not cloyingly sweet. It’s creamy, dreamy and it cost us $3.75 each. It’s not bad. Robyn’s strawberry tasted like fresh strawberries and her pistachio gelato well, tasted like roasted pistachio. I was a bit apprehensive from trying pistachio gelato because of a really awful childhood experience with pistachio ice cream. My mom bought a half gallon of Friendly’s ice cream from my local supermarket when I was young and she bought pistachio. When I ate a few spoons of the Friendly’s pistachio ice cream, it tasted awful. It tasted medicinal, alcoholic; nothing tasted close or related to pistachio. Whenever there was a pistachio ice cream or gelato flavor, I avoid it
like the plague ever since. But when I sampled Robyn’s pistachio gelato, it redeemed my faith in the pistachio gelato. Not all pistachio flavored ice cream or gelato are created like Friendly’s. Thank goodness! Thank you Robyn for now getting me hooked on pistachio gelato. Now I have an another food obsession. Like I need more?

I love my gelato flavors. The mascarpone was delicately flavored with mascarpone cheese and a slight hints of vanilla. It was a good contrast to the gianduja, which is intensely chocolate-y and a background flavor of hazelnut. *sighs* I’m in gelato heaven. I haven’t eaten good gelato like that since Il Laboratori del Gelato. I had a daring thought that in one hot, sweltering summer day I’ll go to this gelato shop and actually ask for a large cup or container and ask for a scoop of every flavor they’ve got and I’ll live off of it for the day. I’ll be satisfied and feel cooler by then.

Once we finished our dessert, we waddled our way around the Chelsea and Union Square, perusing various stores and I walked with Robyn to her apartment, just for the sake of burning a few calories. When I left Robyn at her place, I roamed around Curry Hill and eventually I had a strange craving for more sweets. I have a very strange stomach. I ended up walking to Cafe Zaiya and I bought the Sweet Potato Pie or is it puff? It cost me $1.95.

This somehow appealed to me compared to the other pastries and buns that were available. In terms of taste, this does taste like a sweet potato pie but much sweeter due to the sugar glaze and the puff pastry that enveloped the sweet potato filling was quite flaky. It was good but a bit too sweet for my taste.

In all, it’s been a good day: I ate out with another food blogger who got me hooked on pistachio gelato and it actually feels like a real January day in New York, unlike what happened a couple of weeks ago. I like the prior more than the latter.


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.

  1. Kathy says:

    Oh Tina! I wish I knew you last spring break when I came and pigged out a whole week with Robyn! We’ll have to make sure to all get together this fall. Oooh, the food we would conquer…heheheh! :)

  2. hellokitty893112 says:

    Kathy – That’ll be awesome if we actually did that. The food…good god, we’ll eat too much! lol! :)

  3. Cathy says:

    that’s funny, i was at florent this past saturday for brunch too! i thought it was okay, but the service could definitely use improvement. (ladycaterina)

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