I like Australia. At least, I like my fantasy of it.
Williamsburg though? Not on my short-list of favorite New York neighborhoods. It lacks a charming air and beautiful buildings that I adore. But, my goodness, do they have some good coffee places over there!
I’m quite picky in terms of aesthetics. I want things to be clean, elegant, refined and with a dash of the unexpected. My ideal neighborhood is drenched in green, but with tall buildings. The houses themselves have enchanting, large windows. I like places that mix the city with a cute and quasi-provincial style.
But then again, with the popularity of areas like Greenwich Village, doesn’t everybody like that?
The last time I headed over to Williamsburg was on a pleasingly warm Saturday in mid-April. There were people, mostly young and good-looking, swarming the streets. They walked along with their friends, significant others or families basking in some of the first hints of real spring. More than a few of them were enjoying the Williamsburg coffee scene.
My dad and I went to Toby’s Estate Coffee on North 6th street. Obviously quite a few other people had the same idea. The cafe was crowded, though in a pleasant way. We were partaking in an event; a celebration of coffee and Spring. The large windows at the front of the cafe let the warm sunlight flood in and gave some charm to the otherwise cool and modern room.
I assume that the cafe was once a warehouse or a garage given the high ceilings and utilitarian-esque window. It’s a big space with a decent amount of seating. The one down-side to the seats? None of the chairs had backs. Yet, this didn’t prevent customers from getting comfortable. It seemed like people were sitting there for the long-haul, nursing their lattes over their copies of the New York Times.
Since the cafe is actually an Australian chain, I had to order a flat white. My dad got a macchiato. The flat white was quite good and the amount of foam was ideal. The coffee itself was good, though perhaps a bit too acidic tasting. Normally, my taste buds aren’t quite finely tuned enough to be able to pick out all the subtle flavor notes—I struggle enough with identifying bitter, smooth and dark/light—but the acidity was quite pronounced there.
Ultimately Toby’s Estate Coffee is a lovely experience and even worth a trip to Williamsburg for. Although the space is large and modern, it manages to be inviting at the same time. It feels like the kind of cafe that one would be thrilled to live next to. If you’re in Williamsburg, head over. Even if you’re not there, this might be the time to go and try it out.
What does your dream neighborhood look like?