Cafe Gitane, French and Moroccan Brunch

Cafe GitaneCafe Gitane
242 Mott St
(between Houston St & Prince St)
New York, NY 10012

V.P. told me this is her favorite restaurant in the city. I find that few people in New York can come up with a singular favorite place so I figured I had to check it out. There are two locations, one in the Jane Hotel in the West Village and another in Nolita. While waiting for a seat with D.C. and M.X., I saw a waitress walk past with a delicious deep jungle green colored beverage. She saw the way I looked at it and said, “It’s the cucumber juice. You have to get it.” And so I did ($4.50). The juice was surprisingly lightly carbonated and almost a little fermented tasting… like kombucha. Don’t know how I feel about it though it did taste refreshing. The menu also boasts a number of yummy sounding teas, such as Iced Mint Tea and Turkish Green Tea. Things to try next time.

Cafe Gitane
M.X. ordered the Brie with Apple ($7.25) which came with a toasty warm piece of rosemary foccacia. Brie was just okay. Slightly hard for a brie and a little blander than most. Particularly compared to the brie I had in France which was hyper sharp. Unlike the brie, the apples were way too soft. They were almost mushy like apple sauce. I expected a crisp, sweet and tart apple, like a Fuji or a Gala, to go with the brie. The bread was good.

Cafe Gitane
D.C. was lame and had eaten with his other friends already so just had a Blueberry and Almond Friand ($4.00). A friand is a small french cake made with almond flour and eggs. I didn’t get to try it but D.C. seemed to enjoy it…

Cafe Gitane    Cafe Gitane
This was the “must-have” item on the menu: the Avocado Toast with lemon juice, olive oil, and chili flakes on seven grain toast ($7.25). Like many people before me, I agree that the toast is way overpriced. I make this all the time at home, especially when avocados are in season. Yes, it was creamy and delicious with a slight acidity and kick. Yes, the bread was thick, sturdy but soft, and deliciously toasted. But $7.25 for toast is hard to justify.

Cafe Gitane
Both M.X. and I ordered the Spicy Organic Meatballs ($16) in a turmeric tomato sauce with boiled egg, cucumber-yogurt sauce, and cilantro. The dish came in a tajine, which is a shallow clay dish with a conical top (not pictured) that you slow-cook meats and vegetables in. The conical top allows maximum condensation to fall back into the dish, keeping the meat extra moist. The waitress brought the whole extravaganza out and took off the top in front of me, as if to indicate its authenticity. I question if the meatballs were actually made in the tajine…

Cafe Gitane
The meatballs were soft but not particularly soft. Surely not as soft as the meatballs from Banh Mi Saigon. Nonetheless, they tasted pretty good and were pretty interesting tasting. They had a curry-like flavor from the turmeric and were bathed in a marinara-like sauce that was more tangy than sweet (which went quite well with the curry). Eggs seemed to be filler and cucumber-yogurt sauce was just a dollop in the center, completely overpowered by the marinara. It’s a good concept but I think the whole thing could’ve been executed better. It came with a few tiny slices of toast that should have been replaced with a larger more-absorbant bread.

Cafe GitaneEnded the meal with a nice cappuccino.

I feel like I was a bit harsh, especially since it is V.C.’s favorite restaurant. It is certainly another option to an eggs benedict brunch but looking back, nothing really wowed me nor made me salivate for more.

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