Babylon Bean

coffeecake

The Babylon Bean has excellent taste. And I don’t just mean the food and drink! They have an eye for decorations and a good ear for music! Whether I’m hear catching up with a friend over a good cup of coffee or working on a paper, this spot is without a doubt one of my favorites in Babylon.

Although I love my starbucks, there’s nothing quite like a traditional coffee shop. I’d much prefer the mismatched drinkware or the piping hot herbal teas paired with a freshly homemade pastry. Now that’s what I’m talking about. The Babylon Bean has ample parking in the back and on the street so you won’t have to worry about nabbing a spot. And inside, they have small tables or large couches to choose from. It has a cozy yet funky kinda vibe with the unique artwork hanging up on the walls. Best part is… they’re local artists which is very cool.

As for their drinks, how can you go wrong? I’ve had their chai latte, “almond joy” latte, hot chocolate, regular coffee… and it was all excellent. As well as, last time my friend and I came we shared their chocolate coffee crumb cake which was heavenly. (I think we managed to get every single crumb!)

Looking forward to attending one of their open mic nights! Rock on Babylon Bean! This adorable spot is a must-try.

17 Fire Island Ave

Babylon, NY 11702

(631) 587-7729

thebabylonbean.com

Going Nuts For Doughnuts!

doughnutplant

I don’t like donuts. I don’t know, maybe its because they can be cloyingly sweet at times, the powdered ones make such a mess or possibly because I feel like crap after I eat them. Nonetheless, I usually try to avoid them. However, the Doughnut Plant is the exception to the rule. They’re sophisticated bites with really out-of-the-box flavor combinations.

For my birthday, my friends created a food tour for me with all my favorite spots (including some new ones) and the DP was on the list. The best thing about my college friends is that we’re expert share-ers. So everyone in my party each tried a different flavor both from the cake side and the yeast side.

For the Yeast flavors – the Valrhona Chocolate, PB&J Square
Cake flavors – Tres Leches, Green Tea, Carrot Cake

My favorites were… the Tres Leches which was such an unexpected taste. This “three milks cake” was soft, buttery and had that nice milk-sweetness from the glaze. The Valrhona packed a punch in chocolate goodness and was super rich. And lastly, the PB&J Square… I mean, what’s not to love? Turning a classic childhood memory into a decadent dessert. And a donut nonetheless! Genius.

Yeah they’re a bit pricey. But can you really put a price on sugar-y happiness? (Wow, that was horrible.) But in all seriousness. Take all that change in your piggy bank, head to the DP and try something new…. Be adventurous. You won’t regret it, they’re the best in the area.

379 Grand St
New York, NY 10002
(212) 505-3700
doughnutplant.com

 

Ooh, The Witches Brew

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What’s not to love about the Witches Brew? This gothic/eclectic styled coffee shop was the home to many high school hangouts several years back. There is a pretty diverse crowd here which is nice to see. The Witches Brew is everything I look for in a coffee house:
-Oversized comfy coucheswitches brew food
-Vintage decorations
-Funky menu items (food & drink!)
-Smooth music
*Awesome friends.
They have STELLAR teas here. Me being such a big Tea-Drinker, I know that every visit will be a great one. During the fall season, the pumpkin and chai make it’s guest appearance. My favorite! The cookies, cakes and other assortments of snacks are enough to convince me to travel to Hempstead anytime. Don’t forget this is a CASH only place! I have to make sure to go back here soon. It’s been a while and I’m waaay overdue for a nice chai latte and a giant ooey-gooey cookie.

Weekends can bring the crowds, so plan to wait a bit. And yes, the drinks may be a tad bit pricey but you’re paying for the ambiance, the service and good company! And as you can see by the other reviews, this coffee house is loved by many.

*I could totally picture the cast of FRIENDS hanging out here. This is like the hip version of Central Perk.

311 Hempstead Tpke

West Hempstead, NY 11552

(516) 489-9482

Venturing Into Alice’s Wonderland

PC: Yelp

PC: Yelp

Finding this place was a blessing and a curse. Here’s why:

BLESSING: This place could not be more adorable. It’s a branch of 3 Alice Tea Cup chains. This one, (like the others) is magical in more ways than one. The decorations alone transport you to another world. If you like mis-matched tea cups, an assortment of “tea party” bites and that overall antique/mystical vibe, this is your place. Basically, everything I love. And trust me, it’s not posh in anyway. People of all ages eat here. From little girls bearing sparkly tiaras to a couple of old friends catching up on their lunch break. There is a small space when you first walk-in (I think they did that on purpose to emulate Alice in that tiny door scene) but don’t think it stops there! There is plenty of seating upstairs.

The second-floor is gorgeous. It’s bright and cozy inside. My waitress sat me right away and was so incredibly helpful. I told her that I had a smaller amount of time for lunch and asked if I were to have enough time for a few cups of tea/scones. She said she would be extra-speedy and get that tea brewin’ right away. What a sweetheart. From the endless options of teas I chose the Herbal Chai. It came with honey and chai milk. I also ordered the 2 scone and 1 pot of tea — approx 3-4 cups, special. The scones were buttermilk and pumpkin glazed.

I will go out on a limb and say these are the BEST SCONES I have ever had in my entire life. And possibly for the rest of my life! I don’t know how anyone can top these pillow-y heaven filled pastries. The scones came with clotted cream and raspberry preserves which just added a sweet/tart treat to the already amazing scone. It was creamy and just perfect. I read my book and sat in scone heaven. All for $12!

CURSE: The amount of calories I consumed in Alice’s Tea Cup was probably an absurd amount, but who cares. Anything that tasty is worth it!*

*Calories don’t exist in Wonderland right?

156 E 64th St
New York, NY 10021
(212) 486-9200
 
alicesteacup.com

 

Well Done, Bien Cuit!

PC: Yelp

PC: Yelp

After visiting Bien Cuit, you’ll never look at pastries the same way again. Is it possible to love something without even trying it yet? That’s how I felt about this little bakery.

To preface this review, I have a short story…
As most of my family/friends know, I hardly ever watch TV. But when I do it’s usually a show about food of some sorts. This brings me to my next point: “Unique Sweets” featured Bien Cuit on one of their episodes and whenever I watch these shows, I make sure to make a mental note to visit ESPECIALLY when it’s close by. Just from the images and descriptions, I knew I had to visit. Their featured item was the elusive Chocolate Almond Croissant… double baked in brandy. I’m such a visual person and was immediately enticed when watching the show. More or less, I was sold.

Bien Cuit, meaning “well done” is certainly appropriate. All of the desserts here are carefully crafted down to the very last bite. Upon arrival, the storefront is simple/minimalist and reflects the rustic nature of the inside. Although its spacious, there isn’t much seating to go around. I was there on a mission. My friend was cooking me dinner that night and I can never go empty-handed. So I asked the girl at the counter for suggestions (she was very helpful) and I ended up deciding on three pastries:

-Huckleberry Danish with Yuzu Curd, Huckleberry Jam: Flaky, tart and very flavorful. Those berries certainly packed a punch. This was my wildcard if you will. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t had this fruit before, so take a chance on it. It’s good.

-Apple Cardamom Danish with Pureed Apple and Cardamom Strudel: Second favorite of the night. I’m a HUGE fan of apple desserts so this was a win-win. The unique pairing of flavors certainly works.

-(The true star of Bien Cuit) Chocolate Almond Croissant/Twice-baked with Brandy: If you have to pick an item, CHOOSE THIS. You can thank me later. It’s everything a croissant should be — flaky, soft, buttery, nutty (from the almond paste)… you get the idea. And the fact that its baked in brandy? Say no more. It’s a true showstopper.

Bien Cuit-Assortment

Yes, Bien Cuit may be a tad bit on the pricier side. But I can guarantee the quality is there within every single bite. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

120 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

(718) 852-0200

biencuit.com

Govinda’s

Govindas-meal

 

 

I feel like I’ve just hit the jackpot.

And by jackpot, I mean I’ve discovered delicious, cheap, fresh food in the most unexpected place imaginable. Yes, I’m talking about in the basement of a hare krishna temple. Don’t you just love that?

You can wander past this place without doing a double take. There’s no large neon sign. No flyers. No people advertising outside. It’s good ol’ fashioned word-of-mouth marketing and of course many thanks to all of you. When you walk in, look past the man that sits by the door and past the temple services and to your right you will find Govinda’s. Picture this: Walk down a flight of stairs into what looks like a much-needed-rennovation space that reminds me of an older catering hall/cafeteria. The walls are a interesting shade of green and it’s a veryyyy casual atmosphere. And….. I love all of it.

The staff here is incredibly friendly and always have a smile on their faces. If you look at the sign on the wall (see picture) it’ll tell you the price breakdown. Everything is made that day (buffet style) and fresh out of the kitchen. Their desserts for the most part are vegan so if you have dietary restrictions, always ask! They’re very accommodating.

As for the food. Holy cow (irony, I know) this stuff is GOOD. No GREAT. They offer vegetarian/vegan options without sacrificing any flavor. I’ve been able to each lunch here (Mon-Fri 12:00-3:30pm) a few times and their star dish IMO has to be the eggplant parm. It’s not your traditional eggplant parm by any means in that there’s a underlying hint of curry with every bite. Super “meaty” and cheesy. I’ve also had their: pumpkin soup, quinoa salad, curry chickpeas, roasted curry potatoes/veggies, vegan cookies and cupcakes. Their meals come with their own homemade multigrain bread which is pretty stellar like everything else.

Not only are the portions pretty hefty (I have yet to finish my full lunch), but they’re very reasonably priced. Everything I’ve had here has been nothing short of amazing. I’m looking forward to becoming one of their “regulars”.

305 Schermerhorn St
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 855-6714
https://www.facebook.com/govindaslunch

 

Off To Molly’s We Go!

PC: Yelp

PC: Yelp

Disclaimer: I take my cupcakes very seriously. I’m by all means no expert, but then again my taste buds don’t lie. And with that being said, YOU SHOULD GO TO MOLLYS.

Despite the fact that this place is freakin’ adorable, they produce some really sweet treats. With the combination of those swing seats and the childhood decorations, Molly’s truly transports people of all ages back to the good ol’ times.

I came here with a food tour group and out of all the places listed on the tour description, this was one of the spots I was looking most forward to. I was told that what makes this establishment unique is that they were one of the few places to come up with the “interactive/customized” approach. Here you can pick a cake base, a frosting, a cake filling and even some toppings if that tickles your fancy. Their daily selections vary so make sure to ask at the counter. I truly wanted to sample everything in the bakery, it was tempting.* As for my cupcake: moist, buttery, held the frosting magnificently, dense enough and with the perfect note of sweetness. They also even have a sprinkle station if the cuteness factor hasn’t reached its limit yet.

They also have ice cream, cookies, pies and more but they’re best known for their cupcakes. I also saw that with every purchase donations are made to help schools in the community. Fun fact, am I right?

Overall, I’d have to give that coveted gold star we always wanted as a kid to Molly’s. They offer a fun, engaging, bright environment…. the workers are friendly and let’s be honest… who doesn’t love cupcakes?**

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*I didn’t wanna be THAT person on tour.
**If that person is you, I’d like to meet you. I’ll change your mind, I promise!

 

228 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10014

 

(212) 414-2253

mollyscupcakes.com

Sweet, Sweet Levian

PC: Yelp

PC: Yelp

Oh, my childhood.

I have very vivid memories of coming home from school to the sweet, sweet smell of freshly baked cookies coming right out of the oven. I remember running up the stairs, so excited that I almost didn’t want to wait for them to cool. There’s something about your olfactory nerves — it can trigger the most vivid moments. Levain did just that.

This place has been on my “to-try” list for practically forever. I don’t make it to the UWS often, but since I was seeing a show at Beacon Theatre, naturally I had to go! From what I heard, there’s always a line… the inside is tiny… and it’s 100% worth it. At $4 a cookie, it’s not cheap but you’re paying for the king of all that is cookies.* From looking at the small selection, the obvious choice was the Chocolate Chip Walnut. Decent size, very pillow-y looking and that smell was heavenly. I just hoped it would taste as good.

One word: PERFECTION.
The best moment is when you take that first bite. Cookies have a serious power over people** and immediately transport them to their happy place. It’s a beautiful thing, really. Slightly crunchy on the outside but OOEY-GOOEY almost half-baked goodness on the inside. There is some serious magic going on in that kitchen.*** We were lucky enough to get a uber-fresh batch out of the oven. I was so surprised my cookie was strong enough to hold together. My experience there was everything that I thought it would be.

PC: Yelp

PC: Yelp

I don’t know if you’re the type to travel for food. But if you had to pick a place, THIS IS IT. You bet I’ll be back. No doubt about it.
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*Levain=Heisenberg of cookies.
**Instant smiles/positive mood. Cookies should be the solution to all our problems.
***I bet you there’s Keebler elves working in the wayy, wayy back of that tiny store. Wouldn’t be surprised.

167 W 74th St
New York, NY 10023

b/t Columbus Ave & Amsterdam Ave inUpper West Side

(212) 874-6080

levainbakery.com

Pies, Pies, Pies!

pie2

Ever hear of that phrase “little slice of heaven”?
Ever experience perfection in a pie?
No? Okay. Hop on a bus, temporarily kidnap your friends car, take a hot air balloon, … whatever you need to do… to get to Briermere Farms in Riverhead.

All jokes aside, I would drive all the way out from Seaford to Riverhead just for these treasures. They’re that amazing. The little store/shack is open your typical 9am-5pm* hours with an extended 1/2 an hour on the weekends till 5:30pm. All of the pies are baked right on the farm from scratch. There’s no pre-prepped ingredients or fillings. All the fruit is grown on site. Could you ask for more? Talk about fresh and local.

How can anyone doc a star from here? Okay, yes they may be a bit pricey… ranging from $15-$22 per pie. But the quality speaks for itself. It’s lip smacking good. Briermere’s flavors range from the common apple, blueberry, cherry, peach… to strawberry rhubarb, boysenberry, apricot and coconut meringue! Every pie I’ve ever had was nothing short of delicious.

pie1

My typical experience visiting Briermere’s: **
I’m driving along Sound Ave, counting down the minutes until I reach the farm. I manage to find a spot somewhere on the grass (probably by someone’s corn field) and dodge traffic like a pro. I usually arrive mid-day, so by this point all the popular flavors are slowly dwindling. As I reach the front, there’s one Apple Crisp left. I see from the corner of my eye… someone trying to cut ahead. The next thing you know we’re in an all out brawl. Fruits are flying everywhere, people are cheering, and there’s just no going back.

The fruits are juicy&tart and the crust is a perfect foundation of flaky&buttery goodness. This is a true gem of Long Island. Been coming here for years and I’ve never been disappointed. I hope you love them as much as I do.
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*Yeah they SAY 5pm, but you better get your butt there sooner because they run out fasttttt.
**Okay this never really happened. But I’d like to think I’d go to these lengths for a Briermere pie. Dramatic license people.

SkyIce-Ice Baby!

PC: Yelp

PC: Yelp

Where else can you get ice cream in flavors like: Durian, Black Sesame Seaweed, White Miso and Almond & Thai Tea? One word my friends: SkyIce.

What an adorable part of Park Slope! My college friend suggested this place and when I looked at the menu as well as the reviews, I was pretty excited to check this eatery out. At a glance, SkyIce is undoubtedly cozy, casual and a decent size. During the warmer weather they open up the windows and you can people watch to your hearts content. The decor is very charming with their wooden benches and tables, hardwood floors and exposed brick. We sat down right away and glanced at the menu…. It was selective but covered all the basics of a Thai establishment.

I ordered the Spicy Noodle (extra spicy of course) with chicken. It was just the right amount of heat. As well as with the addition of egg, bell pepper, onion and carrot balanced out the dish pretty well. (For $9.75- good portion too.)

PC: Yelp

PC: Yelp

drunken noodle-skyice

Spicy Noodle With Chicken

Yes the dinner was good but what we REALLY came for was that “ice, ice baby!”* I have to say, choosing two flavors was a difficult feat. However, I rose above and made my mind: Thai Tea and White Miso Almond. I tried a safe and a unsafe flavor. Luckily I loved both. The Thai Tea tasted like the drink itself in ice cream form. I could eat that every day, for real. As for the White Miso Almond… totally unexpected combination of flavors, but they WORKED. And well I might add. If you’re feeling a bit risky, go for that one. I was tempted to convince my friend to go for the sampler, but we were too full. Next time, we’ll just go straight for the ice cream.

SkyIce may be advertise sweet and savory, but in a battle between the both… I think the sweet takes the gold in this case. Can’t wait to come back on a nice hot summer day.

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*Stuck in my head the ENTIRE time I wrote this review. Damn you Vanilla Ice.