Monday, June 9, 2008

Gossip and salad at Cafe Gitane

Yesterday afternoon I met up with my three girlfriends from work for a snack and a chat at Cafe Gitane in the Soho/Nolita area. Cafe Gitane is an extremely precious coffee shop-slash-cafe-slash-doll house. It oozes cutesiness, if that makes sense. And even if it doesn't.

Exterior tables, in the sweltering heat

I arrived first and grabbed a table for four. Easing myself onto the sticky pleather seat, I laid my head back and absorbed some of the air conditioning. The place was very small and packed tightly with tables; there was a small bar/open kitchen taking up a quarter of the space. The whole restaurant was really not much bigger than an average-sized bedroom.

That's the open kitchen area beyond the bar stools.

The girls arrived and we placed our orders. S ordered a glass of watermelon juice; SL and A decided to split a dish of baked eggs, and SL supplemented with a citron-presse. Our food arrived relatively quickly, and although it didn't look quite as spectacular as the enormous mounds of couscous landing on tables all around us, it was solidly appealing.

You can see the yolks buried in there

I'm not entirely sure what baked eggs are (well, I assume they're eggs, you know, baked), but this looked sort of like a casserole. It came with a few slices of baguette on the side, and between them, SL and A finished the dish. Even though I'm not a vegan (I looooove my dairy products), I'm not the biggest fan of eggs straight up, so I didn't take a bite. It looked tasty, though.

My salad, with superfluous dressing

I ordered an arugula salad, which came with baby beets, bits of granny smith apple, crostini smeared with goat cheese, and a chopped-walnut-and-olive salad sprinkled on top. I asked for the dressing on the side, which came as requested, but the walnut-and-olive mixture provided enough moisture to the salad that I didn't need the dressing at all. The arugula was large leaves, not baby arugula-- that's not necessarily good or bad, just unusual, I guess. The beets were nicely cooked and sweet, and the crostini were tasty with their creamy and tangy goat cheese. The only failure of the salad were the bits of apple-- they were really mealy and tasteless (eew). Also, by the end, when I was down to a melange of olive, apple, and walnut, the flavor combination was sort of weird and overly salty. But overall, an interesting salad, certainly.

I'll admit that I don't usually like places like Cafe Gitane. They're a bit too pretentious for my liking, and I never really feel comfortable there. Cafe Gitane was a good place to catch up with friends, which is what we were using it for, even though it was a bit too loud to talk comfortably. The food was solid but not incredible, although the desserts that I spotted looked pretty good. Would I return? Probably not. But it was a pleasant (and blissfully air-conditioned) hour while it lasted. For not being crappy, but not being especially great, I'll give Cafe Gitane a solid 2 Offset Spatulas.

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