Thursday, May 27, 2010
New York coffee break: Iris Cafe
Iris Cafe is a perfect little neighbourhood cafe. Situated in a pretty corner of Brooklyn Heights, with tree-lined streets of beautiful old brownstones, Iris's little shopfront windows almost blend into the surroundings.
Although the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway is just behind this residential pocket, it is a quiet area and the traffic noise is just a low buzz in the background.
Inside, the French-accented decor is perfectly suited to the pressed metal ceiling and exposed mellow brick walls. Gilt frames hold blackboards featuring the menu, while the subtle yet pretty burgundy-brown striped laminate on the tables proves that practicality doesn't have to be ugly. Artworks includes artisan black-and-white photos of busy hands, kneading bread and holding grapes or quiche.
The simple menu focuses on breakfast and lunch dishes. Maple granola is crunchy and sweet, while the egg salad baguette is stylishly wrapped in brown paper tied with string. The salad is fresh, with plenty of egg mixed with tangy mayonnaise and lettuce. A highlight is the sticky cinnamon bun: soft bread loaded with plenty of cinnamon flavour but it is not tooth-achingly sweet.
Cafe lattes are served in huge cups almost the size of soup bowls. Thankfully, the lattes are made with double shots, so there is a good taste of strong espresso, which is not overwhelmed by the milk.
Iris Cafe is a perfect little neighbourhood cafe. Another homely touch is added by the "Please place your dishes here" sign in the corner (where patrons dutifully deposit their dirty crockery). If I could replicate one New York cafe in its entirety back home in Melbourne, it is this one. If you're planning on walking the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan, allow an extra hour and come here first for breakfast or lunch. You won't be sorry.
20 Columbia Place (Joralemon St)
Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn