With more than 20 combined years of food service and restaurant experience the owners of Cafetasia had an idea to create a restaurant that the positive things they'd observed in other restaurants — service, quality, price, design and ambiance — and make them even better.

This restaurant really surprised me. I had imagined Cafetasia to be similar to Republic - a casual place with communal tables serving noodles and other simple Asian food. This could be an accurate description, but really the atmosphere at Cafetasia is much more intimate, even with the communal seating. The restaurant is rather dark, with candles hanging at varying levels from the ceiling, kind of like the dining hall in Harry Potter. Similar tall oil candles are on each table. All this combines to make a romantic space, but then you can also be seated at a large communal cafeteria-style table which makes for a much more casual and friendly atmosphere. These two almost conflicting styles combine well actually, even in the rather small dining room. I've experienced both and my only complaint is that the service is a little spotty.

I've been to Cafetasia twice now and tried a variety of dishes. There is a good selection of unique dishes in sizes from extra small to extra large, which makes for a simple way of choosing what you want from the menu. The pricing is equally as simple, with each size dish having a set price-range from $3 to $14.

I've ordered several of the small dishes including the Calamari Fritters with light-spicy ginger-avocado sauce. The calamari wasn't too crispy, but it was cut into strips rather than the typical rings. The sauce was also unique and a little spicy, though it seemed a little thin. We also tried the Sa-Tae Chicken Chicken skewers with peanut sauce and cucumber relish, which were a little more typical with a nice grilled flavor and a great peanut sauce. Another small dish, the Beef, Mushroom and Pepper Teriyaki is a kebab-like skewer topped with ginger-teriyaki sauce that carried a lot of flavor and was a pretty good size for a 'small' dish.

One of my favorite dishes, from the 'medium' list, was the Thai 'Mieng-Kum' Coconut Wraps which are a combination of ginger, onion, peanuts, lime, crispy shallot and roasted coconut flakes in a Boston lettuce wrap. Served with tamarind sauce, which is kind of like honey. You drizzle the sauce over the filling and then eat the wrap in two or three great crunchy bites. Another medium dish was the Salmon Roll Tempura, which is a sushi roll of salmon and avocado with a spicy wasabi-plum sauce. It had a bit of a kick to it but was a great combination of flavors and textures. It was sliced in half on a diagonal, instead of into smaller typical chunks, which made it a little difficult to eat.

From the large dishes my dad had to try the Duck Pad Thai, a special the night we were there. The dish was typical with rice noodles stir-fried w. eggs tofu, bean sprouts, scallion and sprinkled peanuts, but there was good amount of duck and it was served in a interesting molded sandcastle-esque shape (like an overturned pail of pad thai). There are two dishes on the menu with chicken and basil and I had a tough time getting an answer from our server as to which was better. I eventually gathered that one was served with noodles and the other with rice, though the menu itself didn't say that. We tried the rice one, Minced Chicken with Thai Basil, which was kind of a collection of chicken, bell pepper, onion and garlic with spicy basil sauce that could be served over rice. It had some strong flavors which I really liked though the Thai basil is little different from the basil I'm used to in Italian and other cuisines.

One cool thing about the menu at Cafetasia is that you can order in sort of a tapas style, adding more dishes as you go if you're aren't filled up yet. We decided to do just that, but it took forever to find our server to place the order and then it took a while for the last dish to come out that we almost forgot about it as we finished the rest of our meal. Eventually the Baked Striped Bass with shiitake mushrooms, ginger, celery, and Chinese plum and soy sauce was served, and it was pretty good. The fish wasn't as tender or flaky as I would have liked, but the sauces and vegetables were great.

Overall the atmosphere and prices at Cafetasia really make it a great place in my book. The food is good and unique, but could use a little fine tuning, and the service needs a bit of work. I've already been back, and I'll keep this great restaurant in mind for the future because it can fit the bill in many ways.


I read a lot about Public, a restaurant near Little Italy and the Bowery, and decided to take V there to celebrate our first year together. It was a great choice: we had a truly unique meal with great service. It is hard to describe what 'kind' of restaurant Public is, even on their website the food is described only as "Free-spirited fusion." I'd say it is Australian/New Zealand-ish cuisine, which is definitely something new to me (though it is a bit similar to American and European).

We started our night in the Monday Room, next to the restaurant, it is a wine bar featuring 60 wines from around the world. The menu itself was cool, with, I believe, a kangaroo-fur cover. We had a interesting sommelier, with an accent, a handlebar mustache, thick-rimmed glasses and a three-piece suit. V was convinced this whole get-up was an act, because the accent was indistinguishable, and his look was so peculiar. I couldn't put my finger on it either, but overheard him say he was from Spain, which, to me, seemed reasonable. If we go back we'll have to see if he's changed to being from Romania or something with a new costume and a different mustache. Anyhow he was very friendly and helpful in guiding our wine choice. I ordered a great bottle of Spanish wine, ViƱa Pedrosa, that I thought was amazing. I'm no wine connoisseur, but it was smooth and full and rich, all things I like. All together the service was top-of-the-line - they even offered to take the flowers I had for V and put them in water for her.

Dinner at Public: the view from our tableSoon, the hostess from Public came to seat us. We had a nice table in the main dining room where we could sit side-by-side and see the whole space. Before arriving we had checked out the menu so we had a few ideas in mind for what to order. There are quite a few unique and exotic dishes to choose from. I'm lucky V is adventurous!

To begin with, we selected another bottle of wine, Public has a separate wine list than the Monday Room. I can't remember the vintage, etc but this was another great bottle. Then, for starters we ordered:

  • Cured wild boar with Garrotxa cheese, marinated olives and caper berries. This was thin slices of meat, kind of carpaccio-style, but it was cured so it had a rich flavor that was great with the cheese. It was not too large, which is good for a starter but at the same time it seemed a little pricey.
  • Grilled kangaroo on a coriander falafel with lemon-tahini sauce and green pepper relish. This was great. I've never had kangaroo before (nor boar), and the meat was tender and juicy. The relish was a bit spicy but getting a little bit of it in each bite added a nice kick. The falafel added a nice texture and some more subtle flavor. We both really enjoyed the dish.

On to the main courses, which were also rather unique, if not quite as exotic. I ordered the roast lamb sirloin on crispy goats cheese polenta with saffron braised baby vegetables and harissa aioli. Here the meat had great flavor but was a little tough. I really enjoyed the polenta, which was kind of compressed into a ring and served under the meat. The vegetables were nice but nothing amazing, little carrots and onions, etc.

V ordered the roast New Zealand venison loin, with Cabrales dumplings, oyster mushrooms and salsa verde. Lucky her, I kept wanting to try more of this, as it was definitely our favorite. The meat was just great, very flavorful and tender and cooked just right. Of course mushrooms are always a good thing, and the dumplings added some starch to the plate.

Honestly, I know we had dessert, but after two bottles of wine and a digestif (good scotch!) I can't remember what I chose. I'm pretty sure there was some chocolate, and maybe a caramelized drop of was good! And indeed, Public was a perfect place for us to celebrate: not too formal, great food, and great service all around—plus they have little bars of soap in the bathroom that you can take home! We we're even considering going back just two days later.

Tastee Corner

Tastee Corner is a little diner a block or so from V's place. We checked it our for Sunday brunch and had a good diner experience. I wouldn't expect much more. The staff is really friendly and prices are good, as is the food. I've gone back a few times for a quick bite to eat before work and the service is quick. The atmosphere is typical diner, but very friendly and community-centered. For a quick, cheap breakfast, I'll go back.

Negril Village

Negril Village is an authentic Caribbean place in the Village. I really liked it. V and I went with some of her co-workers for dinner. When we walked in, I was kind of surprised to notice a club downstairs, but when you walk up into the restaurant, it really is a nice space, with great decor.

We ordered a few appetizers to share, including the Negril Nachos with salsa, guacamole and melted jack cheese, over "island chips" with jerk chicken. These were great and made unique with the chips, which I believe were a mix of corn and plantain chips. The mixture of toppings was great, every chip had something on it, and there were plenty to share. We also tried one of the samplers with calamari, sweet plantains, and some kind of fritters - fried stuff is always good, but I guess not that memorable because I can't remember the other item served with the dish.

For dinner I ordered the Jamaican Saltfish Cook Up. This is cod, served with stewed plantain, boiled green banana, yam and dumpling. It was recommended as a standard traditional dish by our server. It was different than I expected, but good. The fish was served shredded, mixed with the plantain in a large mound (there was plenty). It definitely earned its name, as it was rather salty. The sides were rather bland and tough, they each needed to be cut with knife and fork and didn't carry much flavor. This "food" as they call it in the Caribbean is the staple with most every meal.

V ordered Rasta Pasta, a spiral pasta, with roasted vegetables and oven dried tomatoes in a light cream tomato sauce. It was good, but didn't strike me as terribly Caribbean. I was also able to have a bite of the Caesar salad with salmon, which was light and tasty. The Seafood Creole, another main dish, comes in a small cast-iron pot filled with plenty of varied seafood. I didn't try it but it looked good. For dessert we had the red velvet cake, which was sweeter and less chocolatey than I expected, but still quite good.

Overall I really liked the crowd (which lent to the authenticity of the place), the atmosphere, the service and the food. But next time, I'd try something else from the menu.