Saltie & Blue Bottle Coffee

Last week I decided to take a field trip to Williamsburg.

While working on my book, I did take a weekly sojourn to Park Slope, my old stomping grounds, to grab sushi at Taro and to do work at Gorilla, but I did that because it was comfortable and familiar (and I think Taro has the best, most reasonably priced sushi lunch deal in New York); I also like working at Gorilla, it’s a nice change of pace from my daily West Village routine. But Williamsburg? Williamsburg I know very little about.

And so last week, after turning in the book, I was all about trying something new. So I found myself on the L train, surrounded by attractive, hip people, riding to the Bedford stop in Williamsburg. From there, I knew where I was headed because of something that I read in Time Out New York’s “Best Sandwiches in New York” feature; I was headed to Saltie.


Saltie, I’ll say right off the bat, is an adorable shack of a restaurant; a small white room packed with people eating heavy duty sandwiches that are clearly made with love and care. Check out the sandwich menu:


There’s a more detailed menu at the counter that explains what all of those things are. After studying it for a moment, I knew I had to have the Captain’s Daughter. Here she is, in all her glory:


On a bed of focaccia, lay a few meaty sardines topped with hard-boiled eggs (stained yellow with Turmeric? There was something yellow on the outside of those eggs), pickled red onions, cilantro and mint. It was a powerhouse of a sandwich, a big, bold combination of flavors: the briny sardines, the creamy eggs, the sharp pickled onions and the refreshing herbs. And at $9, it felt like something you’d pay $5 more for in a restaurant (plus at a restaurant, you’d pay tax and tip, so this really is a bargain.)

So yes, I loved Saltie. After that, I made my way over to the Brooklyn branch of a beloved coffee institution (a place I first visited in San Francisco): Blue Bottle Coffee.


I forgot to get an exterior shot (or, for that matter, an interior shot) but the place is way cool; a big open space with lots of fresh air and sunlight streaming in. I waited on line with more attractive, hip people and when it came time to order my coffee, something interesting happened.

I asked for, as I usually do in warm weather, an iced latte. And the barrista said: “We can do that for you, but might I suggest a New Orleans-style iced coffee made with Chicory? It’s really good and slightly sweet.”

And I was like: “Back off, barrista! You don’t know my life.”

Actually, I was more like: “That sounds good.”

And whoah, people. As Erin Zimmer points out on Serious Eats, this iced coffee is a contender for best iced coffee drink in New York. Here’s a picture of my drink, though that won’t tell you much:


What’s so great about it is, unlike an iced latte, it’s not a glass of milk with a shot of espresso in it. Instead, it’s a drink conceived, from start to finish, as a cold drink: the brew is extra strong, there’s an extra bitterness there from the chicory that plays neatly off the sugar that they add. And with a hit of milk and scoop of ice, this is worth trekking to Williamsburg for on a weekly basis. It’s that good.

On my way home, I passed a vintage shop right near the subway stop and saw a bunch of cool drinking glasses in the window. We needed drinking glasses (ours break all the time). Check out my new collection:


So thank you, Williamsburg, for showing this outsider such a good time. I’ll be sure to come back and visit soon!

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