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Cafe Gitane, NYC


Cafe Gitane

Cuisine: French, Moroccan
Neighborhood: Nolita, West Village
Price: ~$30 per person

Address: 242 Mott Street, NYC 10012
Phone: (212) 334-9552
Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 9am – 12am, Fri-Sat 9am – 12:30 am
CASH ONLY

Address: 113 Jane Street, NYC 10014
Phone: (212) 255-4143
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am – 12am; Sat-Sun 7am-1am
Credit Cards Accepted

The original French-Moroccan café in Nolita has continued to attract all sorts of artsy hipsters and fashionistas ever since it opened circa 2000.  The offshoot that opened in November 2010 in the Jane Hotel of West Village is equally packed with the same type of crowd.  Like with any trendy scene, one would assume the food is more a sideshow to the main attraction.  However, over many repeat visits for brunches and dinners, the food has really grown on me.  The food is good, not great, but that is better than the indifference I held before.  Everything is simple and satisfactory, and that works for me.

I have been to the original Cafe Gitane in Nolita a few times for brunch and have eaten dinner at the second Cafe Gitane located at the Jane Hotel in West Village.  The Nolita location is bright and cheery (pictured above) whereas the Jane Hotel location (pictured below) is a bit more dimly lit, moody, and more than twice the size.  Other than the lighting and size, everything else is pretty much identical between the two restaurants: the hip vibe, the clientele, the menus, and even the lime green dresses the waitresses don.  This is a great spot for a casual meal with a small group, brunch with the girls, or a date with a vegetarian.

In the grand scheme of Manhattan, Cafe Gitane is pretty cheap but the food is so simple, the price point has to be at this level.  Despite its affordability, I am still scratching my head at those who pay $5.50 for half an avocado spread on a slice of bread.  (They do have really deliciously creamy avocados though.)

The team looks to expand again with an Italian restaurant called Antonio’s on Chrystie Street.  The spot will feature family-style Italian cuisine and supposedly will only have nine tables.  We shall see how this develops!

BOISSONS FRAICHES

Citron Pressé, Iced Mint Tea
The Citron Pressé is pure fresh squeezed lemon juice, and thankfully comes with syrup so you can sweeten your beverage.  Iced Mint Tea is a smooth and refreshing classic.

LES APÉRITIFS

Moroccan Bloody Mary, Watermelon Mimosa
I loved this Moroccan Bloody Mary (I think it had peanuts and Sriracha) which I had at the Jane Hotel and unsure if Nolita serves it.  The Watermelon Mimosas with freshly squeeze watermelon juice (which you can order virgin) are a Cafe Gitane brunch classic.

PETIT DEJEUNER

Orange Blossom Waffle with fruit and maple syrup
You can absolutely taste the orange in the waffle batter… yum!

LES PETITS PLATS

Avocado, lemon juice, olive oil, chili flakes on seven grain toast
So basically this is avocado spread on multigrain with a bit of seasoning.  So simple and yet so good, and everyone on yelp raves about it.  Clearly a cash cow for the cafe…  I’d rather just make it myself at home.

Marinated beets, cinnamon, vinaigrette
So simple, sweet and satisfying

Baked Feta with capers, thyme, olives and tomatoes
I adore baked cheeses.  If you like this, other similar recipes include: Tomato and Feta Baked Eggs, Marinated Feta with Olives

LES SALADS

Yellowfin Tuna Ceviche with glass noodles, bean sprouts, red cabbage, mango, watercress and jalapeno in a soy, ginger and sesame dressing
I love cold salads with glass noodles but this was a lot more bland than would be expected with that entire pile of ingredients.  I would stick with the true Mediterranean dishes here and leave the Asian dishes elsewhere (try Republic’s Vietnamese Vegetables and Glass Noodles dishes).

LES SPECIALITES

Moroccan couscous with red peppers, raisins, toasted pinenuts, hummus and eggplant (optional add-ins: organic chicken, Merguez sausage)
Soooooo filling.  Sooooo delicious.  I always try to eat this without toppling the tower, but it’s inevitable.  I have no self-control.

Grilled eggplant with tapenade, goat cheese and pesto on watercress
My favorite was the pesto topped grilled eggplant, which seemed to also had a thick layer of melted Parmesan cheese.  The olive tapenade was a bit overpowering.  I definitely am making this at home but think will try to mix the tapenade, goat cheese and pesto all together evenly for the fillings.

Spicy organic meatballs in turmeric tomato sauce with boiled egg, cucumber-yogurt and cilantro
Turmeric tomato sauce is fantastic.  Very fun and flavorful combination.  Check out my version of this dish here!

LES PAINS GARNIS

Roasted organic chicken, chipotle mayonaise, fresh parmesan, roasted tomatoes on toasted baguette (anchovies optional)
This sandwich was incredible; the chipotle mayo totally made this.  I would throw some marinated artichokes on this bad boy too — like in my favorite Baked Chicken with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Artichokes

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