What a pleasant surprise I had when attending a press dinner at Coffeemania at 40th Street and Sixth Avenue last week. It is gorgeous and spacious (it used to be the site of a Staples store) and has a nice taste of Russian applied to many of the dishes as the owner is from Moscow and has 30 successful Coffeemania branches in Russia. Judging from the crowd the night I want, this new eatery that just opened December 21st is a runaway hit in a neighborhood known more for office buildings, Bryant Park and the NY Public Library than for artisanal fare! Always start off with one of their clever cocktails served from a special closed in bar area that serves as headquarters for booze, artisanal teas and coffees and the dessert case.
I tested a bunch of appetizers with my wild and wacky press crew and I rarely ask for seconds on an app but the Brussels Sprouts with cilantro, chili lime viniagrette and Chinese sausage blew me away. Considering that I am on a low card diet and this is a low carb dish, I got the urge to move into Coffeemania and just LIVE on this dish. It is simply cooked in EVOO but the Brussels Sprouts taste straight from the farm and the small red sausage has subtle spices not used in the much more “loudly” flavored Italian and German sausages that I am used to. They have a ton of great raw seafood if that is what you are into and one of their real breakaway successes which can be served as an app or entree is the home Lobster Carbonara made with homemade fettucine. My dining companions loved this so much, they closed their eyes as they ate it. The bone marrow with apricot miso glaze and clam chimichurri sauce is also a great choice for those who are on low carb diets…it is hard to get in general and this is a HUGE portion for two to share! Those who love Borscht should definitely check it out before proceeding to their luscious entree–and Caesar salad lovers will die for the superfresh greens, radishes, butter lettuce and toasted French bread croutons in the salad!
I always judge a good restaurant by its steak and the big favorite here is a giant Porterhouse with the bone left in. I did not care what my fellow press diners thought–I just picked up that mother and ate it! They tend to cook it on the rare side, so be sure to specify that you want yours a little more well done than usual. The meat was so tender that I really did not need a steak knife. Let me add right that that young chef Titus Wang is a real doll and will come out and talk to anyone about how he has come to develop the recipe for each dish at Coffeemania. He honed his chops at the legendary Morimoto and occasionally an Asian influence creeps into his dishes (yes, there is sushi on the menu even though this posh yet causal eatery is supposed to be American and Russian fusion).
Be sure not to ignore the fabulous teas and coffees here, including dessert coffees only previously available in Russia. They have something called “Teas Without Tea” which included ginger and fresh lemongrass steeped in a clear personal pitcher. It is blended with a raw honey for sweetness. A lot of the dessert drinks as well as mixed alcoholic drinks use the many variety of house-made simple syrups, including ones made from ripe juicy berries.
The desserts are served Russian style and some of them are indeed Russian classics that I find impossible to pronounce or right. There are staffers behind the glass counter to give details on each dessert and yes, you really go up to the counter to look at them before ordering (this is apparently a Russian tradition). Some are Euro classics like eclairs and tiramisu, but there are also rich concoctions invented on the premises like the red velvet delight called Loves Me, Loves Me Knot. When I spotted this, I thought that it would be great for two lovebirds to split one of these for Valentine’s Day and also treat themselves to a little champagne or any of the red drinks made both with and without alcohol.
Coffeemania is at 1065 Avenue Of The Americas. Their website address is http://www.coffeemanianyc.com. Reservations are not mandatory but recommended. There are a few large communal tables scattered throughout this one-story restaurant because that is a Russian tradition that they want to keep up in the States. Hey, it is a great new way to meet people–that is the way that I have always looked at it!
I plan to go back to checkout more of the great pasta dishes and desserts when I do not have to low carb my way around great eats like this. It killed me not to take any of those beautiful desserts home with me–they are probably among the most gorgeous in all of Manhattan!