14 February 2017

NYC II: Beating the Sleet

On Sunday morning, the beautiful sunshine of Saturday was long gone; in its place a cold, unrelenting sleet. Undeterred, I walked down to the Wall Street branch of one of my favourite mini-chains, La Colombe Coffee, to get some breakfast while I awaited the outcome of the Hamilton ticket lottery. Even on wintry weekend in February, I figured that I was unlikely to get a ticket but it was worth a shot.

La Colombe's FiDi cafe is as sleek as you might expect for a Wall Street cafe. There are only two small tables but there is a bench that runs along one wall opposite the coffee bar. I tried both a cortado (with the Nizza espresso blend) and a Kenyan pourover — both were very good — as well as an almond croissant. I've always loved La Colombe's pretty signature crockery too.

Next on my coffee list was the FiDi branch of Jack's Stir Brew Coffee, down in South Street Seaport. I first discovered the original West Village branch of Jack's in 2003 but as more speciality coffee spots opened up in the city over the years, my visits have become less frequent. My coffee tastes have changed somewhat too, but I still have a soft spot for the stir-brewed filter coffee (the stir brewing reduces the acidity) and the Front Street cafe is as cosy as the original.

By this point, I had discovered that, unsurprisingly, I had not won a Hamilton ticket and the sleet also derailed my other plans, which had included walking in Central Park and going up the Top of the Rock. Instead, I took the subway up to Midtown for a bit of retail therapy in Bloomingdale's and at the Rockefeller Centre. I hadn't realised quite how difficult it would be to get back downtown, however, with several subway lines out of action.

Eventually, though, I made it back to the West Village, where I finally got to have brunch at Jeffrey's Grocery, which has long been tempted me. They don't take reservations and as my past few visits to New York have been with four family members, finding a table at brunchtime has proved challenging. The advantages of being a lone traveller, however, mean that you can often walk right into a free seat at the bar. Brunch was great: I had corn cakes with poached eggs and Canadian bacon, and a sort of non-alcoholic piƱa colada. The atmosphere in Jeffrey's was fun but relaxed, with a great 1980s soundtrack.

The sleet still hadn't abated at this point so I decided to go to the cinema, after stopping for one last coffee at The Elk, a small, rustic cafe in the West Village. I had a cortado and then headed back to the Angelika Film Center for a screening of Moonlight. The film was beautiful and very moving, and going to see a film at the Angelika has long been on my NYC to-do list, so it was a very successful afternoon.

I had dinner at Tijuana Picnic, a Mexican bar-restaurant (unsurprisingly), in the Lower East Side. It wasn't too busy on Sunday evening and I sunk happily into a comfy booth, enjoying some excellent fish tacos with a portion of chips and guac. Happy 'hour' is all day on Sundays, so my margarita (also very good) was only $7. Alas, the sleet still hadn't stopped for my walk back down to my FiDi hotel, but you can't win 'em all, right?

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