All posts by Jessica Joyce

Jessica is a sophomore at Barnard College from West Hartford, Connecticut. She is one of the two editors of the blog along with Katherine Leak. She plans to major in economics and sociology.

Absolute Bagels: A Bagel Lover’s Oasis

Ever since my freshman year, I have been constantly hearing that one of the best bagel places in the city is located right off campus on the corner of 108th St and Broadway, so I decided that it was time to try it. Upon entering Absolute Bagels, I was welcomed by the sweet aroma of freshly made bagels. The smell definitely made up for the odd decor in the bagel shop, and I could tell the rest of the customers did not seem to care considering how crowded it was inside.

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Though there was a long line to order when I got inside, it moved at a rapid pace. I waited about five minutes to order and only another three minutes or so for my bagel to be ready. I decided to order an egg bagel with egg and cheese on it. My all-time favorite type of bagel is an egg bagel, but a lot of bagel shops don’t have it, so when I saw it on the menu at Absolute Bagels, I had to order it!

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Egg bagel with egg and cheese

Upon taking my bagel out of its packaging, I was astonished by how soft and fresh it was. As I sat at one of the tables in Absolute Bagels, I noticed that they were constantly bringing out fresh batches of bagels, which explains why my bagel was so fresh. I wouldn’t change anything about the bagel because it really was one of the best bagels I have ever had. On the other hand, the egg and cheese inside the bagel was good, but not great. The cheese wasn’t melted and the egg wasn’t spread out equally on the bagel. Next time, I will probably just get cream cheese on my bagel instead. I also would have no problem eating the bagel plain (even though I hardly ever do that) because it was just so good that it really didn’t need anything on it.

If I didn’t already make it very clear, I will definitely be going back to Absolute Bagels! When I was there, I noticed a lot of people  were ordering 10+ bagels to go, and that’s what I should do next time (maybe not quite that many). If you do decide to go, make sure you bring cash with you because they do not accept credit cards. I definitely would recommend this bagel shop to anyone that likes bagels.

 

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Irving Farms Coffee Roasters

Now that finals are upon us, I decided to try a coffee shop closer to campus so that I wouldn’t spend too much time away from my work. I wish I had known ahead of time that Irving Farms’ location on W. 79th St is the perfect place to study. The second I walked in, I noticed the comforting and trendy atmosphere as well as the multitude of tables. Unlike most coffee shops in Manhattan, which are extremely cramped, Irving Farms’ location on the Upper West Side is massive. This location has both a front room and a back room, each of which are larger than most New York coffee shops. Though it was quite crowded, I was still able to find a table because the shop was so large. I encountered numerous students who definitely had made Irving Farms their frequent coffee shop because they had come prepared with all of their studying materials.

The display case
The display case

In addition to the multitude of coffee options available, there is also a menu for those looking to have a meal while enjoying their coffee. I decided to take advantage of both. I ordered a medium vanilla latte and a caprese sandwich with Narragansett fresh mozzarella, slow- roasted tomatoes, and homemade seasonal pesto on a ciabatta. My latte was probably the best latte I have had in a long time. The sandwich was also delicious, but nothing out of the ordinary. Though both my latte and sandwich tasted delicious, honestly, they did not compliment each other. I still enjoyed both, but I would have enjoyed them more if I had tried each separately.

Medium vanilla latte
Medium vanilla latte
Caprese sandwich
Caprese sandwich

I definitely plan on going back to Irving Farms and next time, I will be sure to bring studying materials with me. It is definitely the perfect place to study during exams if you are looking for a calming atmosphere that isn’t too crowded (the exact opposite of Butler). I also look forward to trying another one of their many other locations in Manhattan. I would recommend this coffee shop to anyone looking for good coffee and/or food as well as students looking for a nice spot to study.

Culture With a Side of Espresso

Nestled in the heart of the Garment District is an adorable little coffee shop that goes by the name of Culture Espresso. I would argue that the culture itself comes from the artistry in the coffee being served along with the decor.

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This picture does not do the coffee shop justice. Inside, it felt like a little oasis in the middle of Manhattan, somehow away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. While I sat looking out the window drinking my coffee, I felt, for just a little while, that I was no longer a part of the stressful and fast paced world of New York. Sitting looking out the window, I was just an onlooker, not a participant. Finally I had a break.

Vanilla latte
Vanilla latte

I decided to be boring this time around and order my usual drink, but there was something slightly different about this vanilla latte compared to most. The vanilla syrup that Culture Espresso uses is homemade, along with their maple syrup. I wish I could say that I tasted a difference between their homemade syrup and any run of the mill syrup that most coffee shops use, but I could not.

My latte definitely looked like a one of a kind masterpiece, but it did not taste like one. The espresso in my latte was very flavorful, but it was overshadowed by the amount of milk that was added to it. I honestly tasted the milk more than I tasted the espresso, which was very upsetting, especially considering I am not a big fan of milk to begin with.

Chocolate chip cookie
Chocolate chip cookie

I also ordered a chocolate chip cookie with my latte. I was hoping it would taste better than it looked, but sadly it did not overall. The cookie was very hard and crunchy, which is not something I ever want in a chocolate chip cookie. One redeeming factor was that the chocolate chips were melted inside the cookie, giving it a molten center, similar to that of a chocolate lava cake (my favorite dessert).

Ultimately, I would not recommend this coffee shop from my experience, but it does have excellent reviews, which make me want to give it another try at some point.

Toby’s Estate: Flatiron Espresso Bar

Just down the street from the Flatiron Building (Fifth Avenue between 20th and 21st St) is a tiny coffee shop nestled in between two clothing stores, Club Monaco and the Loft. Before walking inside, you would never guess that the two clothing stores were actually part of Toby’s Estate itself. Although the espresso bar is extremely tiny, it is a very open space because, in addition to the two clothing stores, it is also connected to a Strand Bookstore/Club Monaco partnership. What better than a chance to read and shop for books while enjoying your morning (or afternoon or nighttime) coffee?

The open doorway leads to first the Strand Bookstore and then the two clothing stores
The open doorway leads to the Strand Bookstore first and then to the two clothing stores
The Strand Bookstore connected to the espresso bar
The Strand Bookstore connected to the espresso bar (it also had a little flower shop)

When it was time for me to order, I figured I should try their version of my usual order but was surprised when I couldn’t find it. I am normally very boring when it comes to my coffee order and almost always get a vanilla latte. This time around, I was forced to try something new (definitely a good thing in this case). I asked the cashier for his recommendation and he suggested their maple sage latte; it sounded good so I figured, why not?

Medium maple sage latte
Medium maple sage latte

Although I was upset to see that the medium latte I had just paid $4.50 for was so tiny, I was pleasantly surprised by both the presentation (isn’t it pretty?) and also the flavor of the latte. It was probably one of the best lattes I have ever had due to the quality of the espresso itself and the maple sage flavoring. This flavor seemed to enhance the very taste of the espresso, making it the perfect choice.

Considering I went to the espresso bar around four o’clock in the afternoon on a Friday, it was surprisingly busy, unlike the Starbucks around the corner. As a result, I would say that this is a favorite spot for many and now also me. I will definitely be coming back to have another maple sage latte or maybe something new again.

For those who don’t normally venture down to this area of Manhattan, Toby’s Estate actually has three other locations, each of which are very diversified but of course all share the same amazing quality. They have one location in Brooklyn, and the other two are in Manhattan: Midtown East and the West Village. None of the other locations are connected to bookstores, which definitely sets this location apart from the rest.

The Cinnamon Snail: Vegan Food on Wheels

For my last blog post of the semester, I decided to try something a little different, and the Cinnamon Snail is definitely something out of the ordinary. The Cinnamon Snail is known for having vegan food trucks scattered throughout New York and New Jersey, but recently they opened a location in the Pennsy, a new food hall above Penn Station on the corner of 33rd street and 7th avenue. The food hall has numerous other options other than the Cinnamon Snail (and all of them looked great).

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Although their menu is limited, their food is truly spectacular. You will not regret visiting either their location at the Pennsy or one of their food trucks. I decided to order the Maple Mustard Tempeh Sandwich, which was made with roasted garlic aioli, marinated kale, tomato, onion, and of course, tempeh. They were very liberal with their use of garlic aioli along with all of the other ingredients used. The garlic aioli was delicious and tasted great with the maple marinated tempeh. This sandwich was filled to capacity and as a result, I left completely stuffed. I can’t even begin to describe how much I enjoyed this sandwich. All I can really say is that you must try this for yourself because you will not be disappointed!

Maple Mustard Tempeh Sandwich
Maple Mustard Tempeh Sandwich

Even though I was completely stuffed, I couldn’t resist trying their Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie because I could already tell from their display that it would taste good, but I didn’t realize just how good it would taste. It was probably one of the best brownies that I have ever had because the chocolate was very rich in flavor and the peanut butter cheesecake layer in the middle was utter perfection, especially with the contrast of the chocolate.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie
Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie

I’m so glad I got a chance to try the Cinnamon Snail because it is probably one of my favorite places I have tried thus far. There really is nothing quite like it in all of Manhattan. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone looking for a quick bite in a casual atmosphere (and of course great vegan food).

Village Natural: A Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant

When I walked into Village Natural, I was welcomed by a surprisingly casual and homey atmosphere, the type of atmosphere that is hard to find at a vegetarian or vegan restaurant. Village Natural encompassed everything I was looking for into one: vegan and vegetarian food, a homey atmosphere, a short wait time, and excellent food! The restaurant is located at 46 Greenwich Avenue in the West Village.

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When I sat down and got handed the menu, I realized I was going to have a problem; there were so many options that all sounded amazing. After spending a lot of time going through the menu, I decided to get the Breathe Classic Smoothie and the Veggie Cutlet Parmigiana, which also came with a salad. The smoothie was vegan and was made with strawberries, bananas, and orange juice. I could not tell that it wasn’t made with diary!

Breathe Classic Smoothie
Breathe Classic Smoothie

Almost immediately after ordering, my salad arrived. I was very hungry when I arrived at the restaurant, so I was very happy to get my salad right away! The salad was the perfect size and tasted great with their homemade tahini sauce.

Salad
Salad

Right after finishing my salad, my entrée arrived, and I knew just from the smell that it would taste amazing. I ordered the Veggie Cutlet Parmigiana with cheese, but it is also available without diary cheese to make it vegan. My entrée came with pasta as well as broccoli, leaving me with a lot of food to take back with me! The Veggie Cutlet Parmigiana itself tasted very similar to chicken. One of my favorite meals before becoming a vegetarian was chicken parmigiana and if I wasn’t at a vegetarian restaurant, I would have thought that I was eating chicken.

Veggie Cutlet Parmigiana
Veggie Cutlet Parmigiana

I will definitely be going back to Village Natural sometime very soon. So far, this is one of my favorite restaurants I have been to in Manhattan and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for good food, even if they aren’t vegetarian or vegan.

Rockin’ Raw: Vegan Peruvian Creole Food

One of the things that I definitely take for granted since moving to the city is the opportunity to try so many different vegan restaurants. Even though all vegan restaurants only serve vegan food, they are all very different. On my most recent adventure to find a vegan restaurant, I stumbled upon Rockin’ Raw located at 171 Sullivan Street in Greenwich Village, which serves Peruvian Creole food that is both vegan and gluten free.

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Being that it is close to Washington Square Park, it is a great place to get takeout and eat in the park, now that it has gotten warmer outside. Although I would definitely recommend eating in the restaurant as well, because it is very nice and cozy inside. It is small though, so it definitely will get crowded.

I decided to try the lasagna and I also got a chocolate shake to go with it. For their shakes, you have the choice of either almond milk or coconut milk. I decided to try it with coconut milk. The taste of the coconut milk was very obvious in the shake, but it definitely gave it a unique flavor, and actually made it even sweeter. I would guess that with the almond milk, a customer probably couldn’t detect that diary milk wasn’t used. Ultimately, the shake was very good and definitely satisfied my chocolate craving. I would definitely recommend trying it!

Chocolate Shake
Chocolate Shake

The lasagna I had was excellent because it tasted amazing and also the portion size was quite big. I’m not sure how, but it definitely tasted like there was meat in the lasagna, which made it much better than most vegan lasagnas you will find at other vegan restaurants. The lasagna was made with layers and layers of zucchini, mushrooms, red bell peppers, marinara sauce, and sunflower ricotta cheese.

Lasagna
Lasagna

Before going to Rockin’ Raw I had pretty high expectations, but the meal I had was even better than what I expected it would be. I highly recommend trying Rockin’ Raw; you will not be disappointed!

Mouthwatering Vegan Cuisine, Made Possible at by CHLOE.

As I walked into by CHLOE. after having stood in a line out the door and down the street, I smelled something extraordinary. It didn’t smell like food that could be made in a vegan restaurant, it smelled too good, too flavorful, and definitely not something that could be vegan. I figured, perhaps the food just smelled good and didn’t actually taste quite as good as it smelled, because that couldn’t be possible. It turned out, I was very wrong; there was a long line for a reason. And might I add, the line moved very quickly and it only took a matter of minutes for my food to be made.

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The restaurant is basically a vegan fast food place, but the decor would suggest otherwise. While a customer does order and pay at the counter, the rest of the restaurant has the feel of a casual sit-down restaurant, making it the best of both worlds. It is located at 185 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, which is a little bit of a trek from Morningside Heights, but it is definitely worth it.

I ordered the Pesto Meatball Sandwich, which was so flavorful, and the vegan meatballs actually tasted like real meatballs. The combination of the pesto and the vegan meatballs, along with the marinara sauce and the various other ingredients had such an amazing and unique taste. I had never tasted anything quite like that before, but now that I have, I know I will be craving it very soon.

Pesto Meatball Sandwich
Pesto Meatball Sandwich

Out of all of the vegan restaurants that I have tried in Manhattan thus far, this is by far my favorite. Not only is the food spectacular, but all of their food is very inexpensive. Whether or not you are a vegan, by CHLOE. should be at the top of your list for restaurants that you want to try.

Angelica Kitchen: Affordable and Delicious

This time around, when I began looking for a vegan restaurant, I decided to find a place a little further from campus. I came across Angelica Kitchen in the East Village located at 300 East 12th Street.

Although the restaurant is a little far from campus, it is very inexpensive for the excellent quality of food, and definitely is worth checking out!

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The restaurant has a really great atmosphere with a modern and casual feel. Angelica Kitchen also has a separate area for takeout, where you can order and pick up your food in a very short amount of time. Also, the area for takeout has a counter by the window with stools for those that may want to stop in for a quick meal.

I ordered a hot apple cider and the Hot Open Face Tempeh Sandwich. The apple cider tasted very fresh and the sandwich was very different from what I expected, but it was excellent! The sandwich was made up of multiple pieces of a sourdough baguette, each topped with a very well marinated piece of tempeh, which also came with gravy to put on top. I got mashed potatoes on the side and they were also very good. They had some sort of seasoning that made them taste better than most of the mashed potatoes I have had in the past. The difference in taste may have been from the vegan substitute for butter that must have been used.

Hot Open Face Tempeh Sandwich with Mashed Potatoes
Hot Open Face Tempeh Sandwich with Mashed Potatoes

Ultimately, I am so glad that I got a chance to try Angelica Kitchen and I will definitely be going back. This is a great spot for anyone looking for a vegan restaurant or anyone just looking for great, relatively inexpensive food that is served in a great atmosphere.