There are several really good coffee places in Cobble Hill, but Cafe Pedlar is consistently my favorite. The baristas are friendly and helpful, and the Stumptown coffee they serve is always perfectly done. I’ve never had a disappointing drink there — they really know how to pull a perfect espresso. I always take my coffee to go so the lack of seating isn’t an issue for me, but it’s not really a hang-out-and-linger kinda place. My advice? Order an iced cortado, pick up a bagel across the street and walk over to Cobble Hill Park. Perfect weekend morning!
Ost Cafe is ridiculously pretty. It’s a beautifully renovated corner space with floor-to-ceiling glass folding doors, vintage floor tiles, marble table tops, gold wallpaper... it’s like a dream about a cafe. They serve Intelligentsia coffee and make beautiful, huge lattes. This is where I take friends from out of town when we want to catch up on the past three years over multiple cups of coffee. They stay open late (I wish all coffee shops did), and it is definitely a place to sit and linger!
I work in as a designer in commercial publishing, but my love of the medium first came about through the book as an art form. Printed Matter has what they refer to as a “democratizing” approach to determining what artists’ books they carry, typically only accepting those produced in editions over 100 which can be sold at relatively low prices. This lack of elitism has resulted in a store and public reading room that makes artists’ books totally accessible and “user-friendly” even to those who are totally unfamiliar with the format. They carry a lot of strange stuff, yes, and these are not books you’re going to find at Barnes & Noble. These publications are all about the design, the craft and the experimental possibilities of the book format.
I’ve discovered so many designers by way of The Future Perfect over the years: Donna Wilson, Lindsey Adelman, Jason Miller, Piet Hein Eek... the list goes on. I have to admit that I usually treat my time there more like a visit to a museum than I do a shopping expedition, but I like to think I’m just filing it all away for future reference when I have piles of money to spend on beautiful sofas and chandeliers and mirrored gold shipping pallets.
Hopefully food trucks count as restaurants, because the Cinnamon Snail sells the best food I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. I mean, basil pesto grilled tofu with white truffle cashew cheese, kalamata olive tapenade, arugula and caramelized onions on garlic grilled baguette? WHAT?? Yes. They have the most incredible sandwiches ever, and their baked goods (hello there, coconut Thai basil donut) are just ridiculous. Everything is organic and vegan, and the flavors are out of control. Chef Adam Sobel is a genius, and all of the truck employees are awesome. The line gets pretty crazy during peak lunch hours, so plan accordingly!
Oh, M.O.B., how I love thee. I wish I could say that I’ve tried everything on the all-vegan menu and that it’s all amazing, but the truth is that I almost always order the same thing ever time I go there: Baked macaroni in creamy sweat potato cashew cream with smoked pecans, grilled broccoli rabe and artichoke hearts. My friends tell me the burgers and flatbreads are delicious, but you just can’t tear me away from that mac & cheese! Sometimes they even have homemade vegan Chipwiches for dessert. The decor is great too, with nice, big communal tables and a super-high ceiling... plus an outdoor garden. What else could you possibly need?!
My husband tells me this place has cruddy beer, but I think ALL beer is cruddy so I don’t care. The decor has a sort of Chinese-Victorian thing going on, and it feels a little bit like Yaffa down the street only more RED. So much red. So dark! So flattering! They play good music (lots of Morrissey and old hip-hop), and the friendly servers are happy to let you take a table for drinks even if you’re not ordering food. I don’t go out to bars often, but I almost always wind up at Simone when a friend suggests we get a cocktail after dinner.
Schiller’s is a French industrial dream come true. Keith McNally really knows how to put together a space with perfect atmosphere, and every detail really is perfect. Even the bathroom looks exactly how you want it to look. Vintage mirrored glass, subway tiles with dark grout, exposed pipes... and it all feels genuine, even though it’s (relatively) new. Schiller’s is also one of the few bars in NYC where vegans can get a nice meal, too — roasted cauliflower with a side of broccoli rabe, share an order of fries. So good! And they make the most amazing Pimm’s cup.
After working in midtown for 15 years, I’ve accepted the fact that the lunch options are pretty lame. For at least three seasons of the year, though, we have a number of very nice outdoor public spaces in which to eat our lunch, the loveliest of which is Paley Park, designed by Zion & Breen Associates in the mid-’60s. It's what is referred to as a “vest-pocket” park, nestled between tall office buildings in areas that were once vacant lots. It’s a modernist oasis complete with Bertoia chairs, tulip tables, locust trees and a wall of falling water that spans the width of the entire park. That waterfall is a buffer to all of the noise of the city — it’s like walking into another world.
Since 1979, the ground floor of 393 West Broadway has been home to a single piece of art. The fact that the Dia Art Foundation has maintained this piece (as well as De Maria’s Earth Room and several other long-term installation pieces) for so many years even as real estate has become more and more valuable in NYC is both amazing and wonderful. The enormity of the installation is awesome in the true sense of the word, but it’s an unbelievably peaceful place to stand and look for a while, to the point of being hypnotic. Any time I find myself walking by during operational hours, I stop in for a bit.