In my oh-so humble opinion, NYC guidebooks should make a strong distinction between the East Village, Lower East Side and Nolita. The neighborhoods all sit next to each other, intersecting to some degree, but they could not be more different.
I like Nolita, I can tolerate the East Village and I try to stay as far away from the Lower East Side as possible. My ill-feelings towards the LES are a direct response to the interminable walks to the East River. Some friends went to high school down there and each time I went to visit them, I spent what felt like an eternity crossing East Houston. Okay, so maybe I only did this a handful of times, but the journey is so painful/boring/disgusting that the area is eternally marked as generally horrendous in my mind.
The area still hadn’t grown to enamor me when I went to Babycakes in January. Out of all the respective things that have changed about New York and I in my life time, the LES’s general depressing-ness has held steadfast.
But, never fear, Bluebird Coffee Shop isn’t on the Lower East Side, it’s in the East Village, you’re cool. Nearly every single description of Bluebird Coffee Shop I’ve read describes it as a neighborhood joint. The location is a bit of storefront-meets-cafe. There are three wooden tables tucked inside that can barely fit four or five people. There is also a single stool facing the windows, with some more outside during warm weather. If you are fine with sitting outside, there are also some benches sitting precariously upon the curb.
Despite the small size, Bluebird seems to be constantly crowded, serving up excellent coffee. My mother and I went on one warm Thursday morning. We each got a cappuccino and sat outside on the tall stools (like the tallest stool this 5′ 2″ girl ever climbed up on), sipping our drinks and watching the world move by.
And watching really cute dog…
The cappuccini came in small paper cups; the perfect size. I would have preferred ceramic, but I can see that the majority of customers probably get their coffee to take away. My cappuccino had a lovely little cap of foam with pleasing latte art, but the real star of the show lay beneath the foam. The coffee.
It seems disappointing that I’m refering to this coffee being the star of the show. Shouldn’t it always be? Unfortunately, some cafes seem to think of their coffee as merely an afterthought in their beverages. Starbucks, anyone? I want the coffee flavor to come front and centre and, when it does, to taste good.
Well, I’m pleased to say that Bluebird Coffee did just that. The coffee was the star of the show and tasted very good. They hit the balance just right between pleasingly bitter coffee, warm milk and foam on top. Not only did I enjoy drinking my cappuccino, I can’t wait to go back and get another one.
And that, my friends, is truly the mark of a good cafe.
Do you have a favorite neighborhood in your hometown?