I’ve increasingly found myself warming to a category of restaurants and bars that I would classify as “overrated but pretty damn good.” The pizza pantheon’s Di Fara and Franny’s immediately spring to mind, as does La Colombe, whose draft latte I enjoy, even in the winter.
The most recent addition to my category comes in the form of cafe Maman, which now boasts 2 trendy locations, in SoHo and TriBeCa. I’ve dropped into the SoHo one numerous times on my way to work or class to pick up some coffee, Maman’s rich version of an Oreo, and any number of other pastry treats. The newer TriBeCa cafe is home to a dining room where I have now experienced both brunch and drinks.
Brunch is a (slightly overly) leisurely affair, with decadent yet healthy-seeming options like green tea waffles and smoked salmon on black bread. About that leisure: Maman was still working out a couple of logistical snags at the time of my visit, but luckily for me, my server was extremely courteous and apologetic, and even comped me my brunch cocktails, including a delightful hot chocolate spiked with amaro and walnut liqueur. If you’ve got a morning or afternoon to while away in TriBeCa (brunch ranges for the incredible span of 9-3), I would definitely recommend a seat at Maman’s communal table. If you’re in a hurry, you can pick up a pastry, salad, or sandwich at the front counter, perhaps consuming it on one of the ridiculously fluffy couches that greet you upon your entry.
When I came back for drinks a few days later, the dining room was empty, which was a shame for everyone else’s tastebuds. I, on the other hand, got to sample two delightful beverages: the Santahattan, a nice strong wintry blend of pine, rye, mint, and sweet vermouth, and a frothy teacup of Papa Peanut, slightly bitter and very peanutty and creamy. My server was extremely friendly, and I hope that she will soon have more customers to while away Tuesday nights. I know I will be back to try some of the menu’s intriguing food options like stuffed squash and corn spaghetti.
Maman, 239 Centre Street, SoHo, and 211 West Broadway, TriBeCa