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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ariel and I ordered the Chilled Corn and Lemongrass soup with coconut mousse with 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
17 E 13th St
New York, NY 10003
184 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
Grey Dog Cafe
90 University Pl
New York, NY 10003