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Eat and Drink Like It’s 1899

September 2011

By Kendah El-Ali, New York

It’s hard to say how the gold standard for local drink and dining in New York has become definitively throwback, but one thing is certain: from coffee shops to tony dinner spots, a walk through the front door is also a walk back in time.

The first time I walked into the Ace Hotel’s Stumptown Coffee, it was admittedly a little hard not to giggle. Who knew that vests, suspenders and driver’s caps could be so cutting-edge? Or in the case of Brooklyn’s Black Gold Records (a coffee shop, record and antique store all at once), perhaps a stuffed hyena is exactly what’s needed with a Black Flag record and individually brewed cup of coffee? Why not? Both businesses offer services that arguably are—and feel—more personal and intimate than their rivals’ – and their respective branding reflects and refers to an era when personal experiences and standards mattered.

There’s even more than meets the stylized eye with these establishments, many of which adhere to strict local, direct-trade, green and/ or artisanal standards. Stumptown, for instance, not only offers at least four brewing options for your coffee, but they also sell Williamsburg-made Mast Brothers Chocolates. In the case of Tribeca’s Smith & Mills—whose aesthetic sits at the cross-section of sunken ship and Victorian basement—Chef Nick Korbee recycles and reuses entire animals from local butchers: last week’s carnitas may well become next week’s rillette.

Carroll Gardens’ Brooklyn Social also serves some of the city’s most delicious, fresh fruit and vegetable cocktails. Old-timey aesthetics, décor, and accessories like tin ceilings, old-school Italian decorations, and a 50’s-era cash register and refrigerator, create an ambiance full of nostalgia that makes it hard not to smile a little bigger while spending time with friends.

At the end of the day, there’s a satisfaction and comfort in knowing from where your drink and meal originated, as well as the man who’s serving it to you. There’s also something to be said for timeless appeal and classicized drinks and dining and New York’s brands and businesses have clearly done their homework and taken heed.

Entertainment & Gaming
Food & Drink
New York

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