Christopher Street has cleaned up nicely. Not long ago, the corner of Greenwich Street housed a porn shop, and suddenly the space reopened as a handsome brasserie, Charlemagne. Interiors have an Edwardian air, with honeycomb floors, reclaimed mahogany details, and large windows framed by antique brick.
Billed as an American-European brasserie, Charlemagne is owned by restaurateur Vanessa Repice, who also runs the nearby Sel et Gras, a well-received French restaurant.
The menu includes Leeks Vinaigrette made with calçots — small, young spring leeks grilled in traditional fashion until they’re charred, then wrapped in paper. Other menu items include Frisse Lardons with pickled beet quail eggs and pork belly, traditional Moules Frites with Pernod cream and “from the broiler” entrees like Entrecote and Smoked Beef Rib.
The Meadow, on Hudson Street, is a sybaritic temple tucked into a small neighborhood store. Big slabs of pink Himalayan salt are stacked along the walls, and the shelves hold a tapestry of glass vials filled with Fleur de Sel, Tartufo Nero, Volcanic Red Salt and much more, in what amounts to one of the city’s largest collections of artisan salts. Owner Mark Bitterman is an authority on this indispensable mineral, and author of a James Beard Award-winning book called “Salted.” He may have spawned the term “selmelier,” which, as you probably guessed, is a sommelier for salt.
But that’s not all. The Meadow also sells chocolates, lots and lots of rare and delicious chocolates. Most of them are single-origin, from places like Madagascar and Bolivia, dark (up to 100% cacao!), small-batch, free of additives, etc, etc.- which translates into purity and depth of flavor. There’s milk chocolate, too, as well as flavored chocolate. I bought a 62% dark milk chocolate with fleur de sel from the Philippines, made by Askinosie. I was tempted to try a bar made with Porcelana, considered the Dom Perignon of cacao, but the $30 tag seemed a little too steep.
Toward the back of the shop is an encyclopedic collection of bitters, used in cocktails and recipes (when I was little, my dad added a dash of Angostura Aromatic Bitters to fruit salad and I loved it…I learned to appreciate complexity early on ;)
Oh, and there are flowers everywhere. You can take those home, too.
Spring is here, and this time I know it’s for real. The air smells undeniably sweeter, infused with the fragrances of newly bloomed trees and flowers. Enjoy a picture tour of the neighborhood at its best:
The climbing ivies that cover these elegant townhouses are starting to green!
A house with a front garden, such a beautiful rarity in Manhattan.
Perry Street, always pretty
Possibly the coolest newlyweds I’ve ever seen, getting their photographs taken on a vintage tandem bike
Boutiques also put out lovely flowers
The mini-garden outside The Spotted pig has new colors
Aria, a very popular and cozy restaurant on Perry Street was shut down by city inspectors last week due to mice and roach infestations, DNAinfo.com reports. Blech!! I have to say they make tasty pastas, but some mysterious force kept me from including them on my list of best Italian restaurants in the West Village. It must be my vermin radar.
Update: Aria has been up and running for a while since the hygiene scare.
An old-school pharmacy that delivers your prescription drugs as well as any over-the-counter medications you may need (if, say, a sudden-onset flu leaves you housebound) is hard to find. One that also carries specialty skin-care brands like Mario Badescu, Roger & Gallet and Dermatologica, plus delicious scented candles by Paddy Wax is….cool as hell. This place exists in the West Village, right across from Abindgon Square, and it’s called Grove. (302 West 12th Street)
check it out:
Upright Coffee, a diminutive espresso bar in Greenpoint, just expanded to the West Village, further proving that the Brooklyn Brand is on its way to world domination- which wouldn’t be all that bad, considering the alternatives. (If you’re confused by the above statement, read this from T Magazine).
Anyway, Upright’s new digs are spacious, luminous, and kitted out with the expected barnyard style. For now, they offer strong and tasty drinks crafted with Brooklyn Roasting Company beans, plus a selection of pastries. On April 19th, they’ll start serving beers, mostly from Brooklyn, of course, as well as wines. There’s wi-fi but no outlets, so you can work until your laptop’s juice runs out, in which case you can walk down the back stairs for a bit of unplugged fun: pinball!
Take a look at the Hudson Street newcomer:
I was walking around the neighborhood today, as I like to do when the temperature drops to 16 degrees and the winds rise to 30 mph, and noticed this extremely odd car. It’s filled to the brims with old newspapers, empty soda cans, Styrofoam cups, and other hard-to-identify paraphernalia. At first I thought it must be some kind of art project, left there by an avant-garde collective from Brooklyn, or something like that. But then I noticed that the driver’s seat was actually free of clutter, thus making me wonder if someone actually drives this vehicle non-ironically. Whatever the case: Only in New York.