Anyone who tells you that New York City offers anything and everything you could possibly desire is lying. Oh, I know, it sounds good and — when you can find pizza places, bookstores, eyeglass shops, toy stores and holiday planning agencies on one block — it’s an easy idea to buy into. After all, New York is so huge and so diverse, that our collective interests should source roughly everything under the sun.
Except, we don’t.
Anyone who can satisfy their every desire in NYC is quite dull. That’s why we fly to London, leave the city at the weekend and open up new stores. For every desire satisfied, there are a handful that go unfulfilled. You can count the brilliant loaves of bread in this city on one hand. The same goes yoga-studios that aren’t preachy. Plenty of things that are commonplace in other cities and countries fly under the radar in NYC.
I’m willing to bet that the people who decided to open Smith Canteen on Smith Street in Brooklyn wanted to fill a gaping hole. They wanted a neighborhood cafe that served pastries and appeared to have a sister location in London. From the outside, they appear to have achieved that goal. From the masses of people that march in and out, the people of Carroll Gardens seem to concur.
I, however, don’t.
Everything was ideal upon entering — plenty of space and a decent smattering of seats — but the lackadaisical attitude at the counter began the downward spiral. I ordered a cortado, took a seat and waited for what felt like an eternity for the drink to be made. Perhaps the barista was chatting while my drink’s shot or so of espresso dripped down endlessly into the glass cup.
The first sip was good, nutty with a slightly smokey taste. I was happy to have it there as a brainstormed social media schemes and read a bit of Me Talk Pretty One Day. Then, the taste changed. As the coffee cooled down I could taste only milk. Even the color of the drink appeared as if it had shifted from toasted nut to pale toast. I let it sit there, then placed it in the slop bucket, half undrunk.
What happens with cups of coffee like this? Those cups when the first sip is good, if not spectacular. Those sips when you just can’t take the flavor. Sometimes they’re too astringent, sometimes their too weak, but most of the times the flavor is just off. Maybe these are the places where we suck it up and order iced coffee or, failing that, tea.
What do you do when you order a food or drink that you just can’t stand?