Coffee Houses, Bakeries, and a Birthday Lunch

For the past two or more weeks, I’ve been going in and out of a few bakeries and coffeehouses just because I love them…and the fact that I’m waiting for my Restaurant Week lunch reservations to kick in sooner.

I went to my first (coffee) love Joe (the one in Union Square), since it’s been ages since I last went there. I always pass this tiny shoebox size of a bakery that is called The Adore. I didn’t eat breakfast the morning when I was going to Eleven Madison Park, so I went in and got myself a croissant and walked over three stores down to Joe for a cup of coffee, their Coffee of the Week, Indian Mysore.

Croissant Croissant

Croissant Innards Innards


Cuppa Joe...Indian Mysore
My cuppa joe…

The croissant was ok. It’s light and buttery but not much in terms of flaky or crisp. The coffee though was awesome. It’s a very smooth, full, rich bodied, with a nutty flavor.

Then a few weeks later, I went to Billy’s Bakery to try out their peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie that I saw from Smitten Kitchen’s Flickr photostream and brownie.

Billy's Bakery

Interior of Billy's Interior of Billy’s

Brownie Brownie

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cookie

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie in half

Innards of Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Innards

The strange thing is that if you compare my cookie to Deb (the Smitten Kitchen), it looks so much flatter and not sugar encrusted. The initial thing that I’ve noticed that is very good is the fact that my cookie was fresh from the oven. It’s warm, gooey chocolate (as you can tell with the streaks of chocolate), not exactly intense peanut butter flavor as I had those tiny peanut butter cookies from City Bakery, but it’s pretty good though.

The brownie was moist but it wasn’t fudgy as I would like it -more like an intensely moist chocolate cake. The chocolate is fine but I rather stick with Bouchon Bakery‘s bouchon that I had months ago. Hmm…too bad Bouchon isn’t open until August 15th.

Then the day of Ariel’s birthday lunch at Aureole (more on that later), I went to Grey Dog’s Cafe just because a lot of New Yorkers claim that their coffee is good. As a java junkie, I have got to try at least a cup…and their sweet potato cranberry muffin since I wanted to have a light breakfast.

Grey Dog Cafe
Grey Dog

The line... A line of people

Interior Interior of seating area

My Breakfast Breakfast time…

Sweet Potato Cranberry Muffin
Close-up of my muffin

Innards/Close Up of Sweet Potato Cranberry Muffin Macro of innards

The coffee was fine. It’s not as bold or strong as Joe’s but it’s better than say, the corner deli’s coffee. The muffin was a winner though. It’s interesting to find sweet potato in a muffin, honestly I don’t think I ever had a morning pastry that incorporates sweet potatoes. It’s moist, sweet, with a lovely crumbly cinnamon topping, filled with finely grated sweet potatoes and dotted with a nice ratio of dried cranberries. Me likely.

Then later on the afternoon, as I said earlier, I had lunch with Ariel at Aureole, to those of you who have been reading my blog for the past two weeks or so knows that I’ve been there recently. Some of you might be asking why go there again? Well, since it is his birthday and he said he wanted to go there for years, I thought to myself, “Why not go there, again?” So I made reservations for lunch and entice him to come on time by buying him a drink. I’m not going into details of the food since I found out that the menu’s practically the same as the last time I went here with Robyn, Helen, and Giulia.

Ariel's drink
Ariel’s prize for coming on time

Unfortunately, I don’t remember what’s the name of the cocktail, all I remembered was that it cost me $8 and it’s made with blueberries and elderflower liquer.

After we ordered, the bread was the same except they also served breadsticks.

Breadsticks and Butter
Pretty breadsticks and the butta

Olive roll and Breadstick My bread plate

Ariel and I ordered the Chilled Corn and Lemongrass soup with coconut mousse with lime oil.

Chilled Corn and Lemongrass Soup with Coconut Mousse and lime oil

The soup was good but I tasted mostly the salt, then the corn’s sweetness with the faintest breath of lemongrass as the finishing note. I like it but I wasn’t swooned.

For the main course, Ariel had the chicken breast with potato puree, glazed vegetables, herb jus, and I had the market fish of the day (which turned out to be hake again) served with couscous, olives, roasted pepper coulis.

Roast Chicken Breast Ariel’s Chicken dish

Seared Hake with couscous My fish dish

Ariel’s chicken was moist, the vegetables were tasty but the dish overall seems…banal. I know that Restaurant Week doesn’t entitle a diner to have the restaurant’s normal menu since one is charged with a small amount of money but at least they can make the food a bit more interesting.

My hake was not as wonderful as last time. The seared part of the fish was soft, not crisp as it was last time, and it seemed a touch overcooked. The couscous was pretty much one-dimensional for me, the only intriguing factor was the use of lemon zest.

And finally, we have dessert. Ariel had the chocolate terrine (it’s the same one I had last time) and I had the New York cheesecake. Strangely, when they brought out our desserts, they thought that we wanted the other supposed thing, hence the explanation of the photo below.

He's Happy
Happy Birthday!

After Ariel blown out his candle, we swapped plates and ate our dessert. What Ariel thought of the chocolate terrine was that it was sweet but not to the point that it’s unpalatable and he thought that the caramelized plantains was actually the most intriguing and the best thing in that dessert. My sentiments were the opposite in regards to the plantains but we all have our own likes and dislikes despite we’re both foodies.

Ariel's Dessert He’s tucking in the dessert

My cheesecake was tasty. It’s smooth, dense, and creamy. The crust portion is basically the thin sugar cookie that is resting on top of my cheesecake. It’s pretty much something I could make at home in terms of taste and texture. The only difference is the fact that I normally wouldn’t think of adding tiny cubes of watermelon with the berries as well as having watermelon juice or consomme (as Aureole puts it on the menu). It’s nice but not very captivating.

New York Cheesecake My cheesecake

To sum it up, Aureole during the extended portion of Restaurant Week was a disappointment but at least the food wasn’t completely awful; it just didn’t titillate my tastebuds (or Ariel’s, as we discussed our meal afterwards). Thankfully, I’m not planning to go there anytime soon since I have other places of interest.

Joe: Art of the Coffee

9 E 13th Street
New York, NY 10003

The Adore
17 E 13th St
New York, NY 10003

Billy’s Bakery
184 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10011

Grey Dog Cafe
90 University Pl
New York, NY 10003

34 E 61st Street
New York, NY 10021


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

  1. Giulia says:

    ohhhh you had a full day!!!

    I need to go to joes i <3 strong coffee

    Aureole was good when we went but maybe u need to give it a rest. But it could also be the cook of that day.

  2. thewanderingeater says:

    Giulia: Yes I did. We’ve got to go to Joe’s sometime! I love their coffee.

    Wonders: Ooh! I just went there yesterday afternoon (around 4 PM). Darn. It would’ve been awesome to meet you in person…

  3. Christina says:

    The lovely part about living in a big city is the many coffee shop options.

    Funny about the lemongrass, I was out with my mom last week and I ordered lemongrass chicken. She tasted it, wrinkled her face, and said it reminded her of the lemon-scented Pledge of her youth! I didn’t agree.

  4. Pingback:My Restaurant Week Guide « The Wandering Eater

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