Here at Girl Around Town, we claim to tell you what we hate, as much as what we love, but you know- I’m always going on about my faves. Well, here’s one that is neither categorically one or the other: Cafe Gitane.
Oh, Cafe Gitane, how I loved you, the thought of you, when I moved to Mott Street. I was so new in New York and living on the most beautiful block in the world. And you were on it.
Your French-Moroccan menu was simple (I can make most of it at home) and the quarters cramped, but the cool je ne said quoi keeps models, hipsters and neighborhood folk coming back.
The fading script in the windows and the adorably quaint (or, as they come to be referred to, annoyingly small) tables outside beckon passerby: There is a fairy tale being told here, we’re just sure of it.
Or not so much.
Maybe it’s a personal issue, but one of the few things I find more annoying than waiting in line, is waiting in line for the CAFE ON YOUR OWN CORNER. But perhaps that’s my issue, Gitane, not yours.
But wait time aside (which starts before midday to past 10pm), when one actually does get in, the fairy tale guise usually drops pretty quickly. For example, the last time I was there, one of the waitstaff insisted on telling all her coworkers (and everyone in a 5-ft radius, which is pretty much the entire restaurant) just how annoyed she was (at them, I take it) because she was the only one with a busy section of tables. …Those quaint outside tables were as much a bane to her, as to anyone trying to eat on them with a full-sized plate.
And yet, like so many men who deserved it, I have yet to write you off completely.
Because- cramped tables, rudimentary menu and difficult waitstaff aside- Gitane, you still create an environment where I can imagine having a coffee and a smoke with Hemmingway. A setting heavy on romantic daydreams that steers clear of twee. One that I’m always in the mood for, just as long as I don’t have to wait for it.
Let’s Be Honest: To avoid a wait, get there early on a weekday morning when the tables are only half-filled with freelancers and dilettantes. Present company occasionally included.
Oh, By the Way: While some of the items (couscous and avocado bread) I can make at home (and have), they are that much more appetizing at the cafe. And others (baked feta and hearts of palm salad) I won’t even attempt and are reason enough to endure the annoyances.
Accessorize: Berret and Gitanes, of course.
Beret available on Berets.com.
And Gitanes….well, given that they are unfiltered European cigs, I really shouldn’t tell you where to get them…