Maman: NYC’s Newest Charming French Café

Located right in between SoHo and Chinatown, Maman is easy to miss, situated a fair distance away from the bustle of Broadway shopping and the Chinatown markets. This casual French café serves all its food in convenient to-go boxes and just opened a few weeks ago. Despite this and its location, when I stepped in for a quick lunch, the place was pretty packed.

Just because the café is designed for take-away food doesn’t mean they’ve sacrificed quality. Quite the opposite, in fact. By limiting their menu to a few selections per day (which you can track on their Facebook page until the website is fully functioning), they’re able to use fresh, local ingredients to make large batches of delicious food all ready to serve.

Walking into the café, you’re met with rustic, whimsical décor (case in point: the amazing rabbit vase below), large bowls of fresh salad, and cases filled with warm pastries. Coffee and espresso drinks are a bit pricey but nothing too shocking compared to Starbucks, with a regular drip coffee costing $2.50 and a latte around $4. The real bargain here are the quiches and tartinettes, which start at $6 and peak at just $8.

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Now, the food itself. While the menu does change every day, there seem to be a few mainstays, at least for this season. I opted for the smashed avocado tartinette and a lemon-thyme madeleine with an iced coffee (price wasn’t listed, but it ended up being $4—a bit much, but well worth getting to use one of the adorable blue and white-striped straws!).
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East Coast Coffee Crawl #1: Everyman Espresso, NY

Here at From Ship to Shore, we’re starting a new series in which we try to find the best coffee shop in DC, New York, and wherever else our travels take us along the East Coast. First stop? Everyman Espresso in New York City’s East Village, which currently reigns as the #1 coffee shop in the country according to The Daily Meal and held the 2012 title of the Village Voice’s best espresso bar in New York. But does it live up to expectations? I stopped by to find out.

The coffee

I ordered a skim latte, which came out beautifully. The foam was one of the thickest I’ve ever had and felt luxurious to drink. The espresso itself was smooth and had a very light flavor. This would be a good option for someone who likes the idea of lattes, but can’t stand the strong taste of espresso. Despite lacking a strong taste, this espresso will give you a serious caffeine rush. It was even served at the perfect temperature: hot, but just cool enough to sip right away.

This place is pricy, though: I paid $5 for my 12 oz. latte. While I enjoyed every sip, this is the kind of place to save for a splurge rather than your daily cup of joe.

A quick note: if you’re planning to sip your drink at one of their tables, make sure to specify that you want the coffee to stay–they serve it in lovely glass mugs, which I only discovered after ordering!

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The food

Is it bad to say that I enjoyed the donut more than the latte? The latte was very good, don’t get me wrong, but this coffee cake donut blew my mind. It was rather small and fluffy, which made me feel a bit better about indulging in this pick-me-up. It wasn’t greasy like other donuts can be, nor was it too sweet or sticky. The traditional crumble on top as well as some chopped walnuts added the perfect crunch to this otherwise cloud-like pastry coated in a delicious, cinnamon-y glaze. It was quite honestly the perfect donut-coffee cake hybrid. And at $3, the price tag isn’t too bad either.

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The space

It’s an interesting space, that’s for sure. Upon first walking in, I wondered why seating was relatively sparse despite a large empty area near the back of the room. After my friend and I had sat down and gotten to work, we soon discovered why: Everyman Espresso shares a building with a small theatre company, CSC. And that door you see open in the back of the photo below? That’s the entrance to the backstage area. So, all of the newest equipment and sets had to be brought through the coffee shop and into the theatre. I found it interesting to watch racks of professional lights and set pieces wheel by, but I can understand if someone expecting a quiet reading space might be bothered by it. Of course, I’m sure this doesn’t happen every day, nor would this happen at their SoHo location, but you’ve been warned!

Otherwise, the coffee shop is modern and clean. The long benches along the white brick walls provide an interesting seating option, perfect for if you want to just pop in, chat with a friend for a few minutes, then leave. There were also several countertop stools against the window, providing a prime view for people watching.
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Budget Finds on the Upper East Side

No, “budget” and “Upper East Side” in the same sentence isn’t an oxymoron. When most people think of the UES, they imagine rich old people in tailored suits, designer storefront after designer storefront, and, of course, Gossip Girl. But once you go east past 5th Avenue and head into Yorkville territory, the UES is a very different place.

After ogling at all the stunning high end fashion along 5th and Madison, head a few blocks over to find these great spots that offer the quality you’d expect from the UES for a fraction of the cost.

 

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O Merveilleux
$3 for a great, authentic croissant? Yes please. Just the facade of this cute cafe is adorable—you can spot its yellow and white striped awning from blocks away. At least stop by to look at all the beautiful pastries on display. Small bites are as cheap as $1-$2.20, so be armed with cash: there’s a $10 credit card minimum.

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Dos Toros
This place has been lauded as a Chipotle counterpart and is working hard to destroy the stereotype that New York doesn’t have any good Mexican food. With $4 tacos, $7 quesadillas, and $8.50 massive burritos, it’s cheaper than Chipotle. The down side? Chips and salsa are not free; they’ll set you back $2.07.

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A Second Chance
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