It was such a beautiful Memorial Day weekend this year, was it not? That Sunday, my bff, Bez and I decided to wander around her nabe, the East Village, and check out some new spots. What we found left much to be desired.
First, we wandered up 1st Ave, and at 4th street, I looked to my left and saw a bakery. "Hmm, Pinisi, that sounds familiar. I think Danny's been here. In fact, I think this is where he got his gravel cupcake." And it was. Bez and I stopped in, picked up an expensive cupcake, and then thought about where we should go eat it. "There's a place I always pass by on 9th Street that seems promising. There's an outdoor part and beer, I think." She knows how I like it. While she looked it up on the Blackberry (which, btw, I'm completely incapable of operating. We've tried, I've had lessons.), I salivated over the promising cupcake in my hands.
"Yes, Cloister Cafe on 9th Street" and off we went. When we got there, I noticed that a separate food entity in between the two entrances (one for inside, one for out.) "Hmm, this sounds familiar too. I think Danny just reviewed this too." And he did. I'm not stalking you, Danny. Promise.
We walked into the garden part of Cloister, and waited for someone to acknowledge our existence, as told by the "Please wait to be seated" sign. That took 5 minutes. Once seated (which required an acrobatic feat on Bez's part) and given menus, I noticed the lack of a significant drink menu. I also noticed how we weren't offered hookah. Not that we wanted hookah, but you have a sign outside that says "Hookah", and hookahs on display in the back, the least you can do is ask "Would you like to see the hookah menu as well?" because I imagine that there are different flavors and types of hookah, enough to require a menu. We were never once offered hookah. Once we examined the menu, Bez and I were perplexed as to what this cafe was going for. The food is decidedly American, it's outdoorsy like a garden attached to a drinking hole, there's hookah, and suits of armor. Bez: "Maybe they say more as to what their about on the website." Blondie: "I shouldn't have to go home and look you up to figure out what your about."
After waiting about 20 minutes for someone to take our order, we both ordered burgers, veggie for her, my little vegetarian, and a cheddar burger for me. You'd think a place with this much potential would serve semi-decent burgers. You would be wrong. The burger was one of those pre-packaged, round, meat from five years ago burgers that you can get at any diner in the city. Same types are constantly recalled. The veggie was fried and decent, but definitely better veggie burgers could be had elsewhere. The one standout was the fries. They were pretty good, and all of them were eaten. We then began the big wait again for them to clear off the tables. "This cupcake better be good," was running through my mind.
Table cleared. Bez: "You're going to eat the cupcake without coffee?" Blondie: "If I want to eat it today, yes." And it was dry. Dry, dry, dry. The frosting was good; very creamy, not too much butter, fluffy and light. Cake=dry. Bez's thoughts: "If I'm going to pay $4 for a cupcake, I better get frosting and cake in each bite, with none of the frosting going up my nose. Maybe, in general, bakeries should scale back, make a smaller, more enjoyable cupcake, that's not $4." I concurred. It made me wish the Sugar Sweet Sunshine (aka my favoritest place on the isle of Manhattan) was open so I could have gotten their banana pudding (my original goal) instead. Panisi did have a spicy cupcake that I might try out at sometime in the future, but the vanilla was a bust, at least at this price point.
128 E. 4th Street
238 E. 9th Street