NYC Best: A Cafe Stands For…

A Cafe Gulf shrimp sauté, in a coconut milk crème fraîche with cayenne curry

Adventurous…Alluring…Anonymous…Appetizing…the A train??

A Café has been a small eating haven on the upper west side for over 10 years, but somehow I never discovered it until recently. It’s not the type of place you walk by and take notice of. The front is anonymously non-descript, it’s nestled next to a defunct custom hardwood floor shop and the name itself doesn’t exactly provide any tantalizing color. But should you venture inside this small space, you will find organic French Caribbean cuisine worth writing about and a BYOB policy to jump for joy over {hard to find in NYC}. What’s even more exciting? They take reservations and offer a prix fixe menu for $25 from 6-8pm. Ok, so it’s inexpensive, easy to get into, personal wine collection-friendly and quaint, but the food?

Amazing.

The whole operation is more or less a one-man show. With a tiny — and I mean TEENY TINY — kitchen in the back, plates keep flying out with the speed of a assembly line operation. Your host/server/expediter/bus boy/”bartender” works the room with such precision you would never even notice staff size {or lack thereof} unless you took a trip to the restroom in the back and saw where all the magic happens.

And magic it is — the grilled Hass avocado, mushroom terrine in a shiitake-sesame dressing {must try to recreate this at home}, was an alluring combination of flavors that was creamy and earthy, while also surprisingly {and pleasantly} served warm. The broiled Bourgogne escargots, with pastis in a cilantro-chili butter was lick your plate-worthy — and lick we did. We had the pleasure of sitting at a table next to the owner and chatted it up for quite awhile. He was quick to tell us these are not just any escargot, but sourced from the best of the best — and I think I agree. For my entree I had the gulf shrimp sauté, in a coconut milk crème fraîche with cayenne curry. This was the dish that really caught my attention and showcased the marriage of the French and Caribbean cuisines. The flavors were rich and comforting and left me wanting more.

The Skim: If you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, a trip up to 108th/Columbus is well worth the adventure. And if you know anything about Duke Ellington’s song, Take the A Train, {check it out HERE} well then you’ll understand where A Café really got its name {west 106th street was named Duke Ellington Blvd after his death}.

Map: 973 Columbus Avenue {between 107 & 108th}
Reservations: Taken! email: reservations@acafeny.com
Phone: 212.222.2033

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4 Comments

Filed under Eat Here!, NYC Best

4 responses to “NYC Best: A Cafe Stands For…

  1. Ken

    Sounds like a fun place to eat. Let’s try it next time.

  2. Peter

    Great post, Christina! “A” is an excellent place, and this is a good reminder for me to get back there (I haven’t been in a couple of years). Glad to hear it’s still a hit! Sounds like the menu is still similar to what I remember.

  3. Bob

    Man, those escargot sound primo!

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