L.A. Burdick Cafe and Chocolate Shop NYC



L.A. Burdick –purveyors of fine edibles, all involving chocolate–has something of a cultish following in its native New England. Now, we will wolf chocolate-anything quicker than the next two guys, so when we heard that the Burdicks (it’s a husband and wife team) were opening a branch right here on 20th Street, it quickly moved to the top of our must-try dessert spots. Because although Walpole, New Hampshire, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, are undoubtedly lovely little towns, New York City, with its many firmly established, supremely delicious chocolate (hot and otherwise) shops already in place, is a different story altogether. Basically, quaint decor and just-serviceable sweets is not going to cut it here in the big city. Can Burdick deliver more?  




The good news: the chocolates we tried were excellent, on par with some of the city’s best at Roni Sue’s and Bespoke Chocolates. And those three shades of mice, and the flock of penguins? Cute as a button! The prices are a little high at the main counter, but the approximately 15-piece, $8 bag of "seconds" we found over by the hot chocolate bar may have looked a bit scruffy, but tasted just fine. Whether filled with pistachio or caramel or raspberry or ganache, in dark, milk or even white, this is rich, honest, sweet-but-not-too-, chocolate. 




The less good news: Burdick’s chocolate in cake and warm-beverage format was only just OK. The baked goods all looked pretty ordinary (and pretty pricey), and the chocolate-raspberry "Birthday Cake" we tried didn’t rise above expectations. The hot chocolate, too–frothy on top, sludgy below–was fine, but nothing to get too excited about either. And with the amazing City Bakery just a couple of blocks away, it seems unlikely that we’ll be back to Burdick for more from this section of the shop. Again, we did like that bag of "seconds" though. 




L.A. Burdick Cafe and Chocolate Shop details

L.A. Burdick Cafe and Chocolate Shop is located on 20th Street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway, and is open from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday; until 10:00 p.m. on Saturdays; and until 8:00 p.m. on Sundays. The decor is unashamedly New England-quaint, creating a more dowdy feel to the proceedings than we wanted for our Saturday night sweet-stop.  For more info, see the Burdick’s website, here



SALE ALERT! Treat yourself right with two terrific housekeeping specials!


The cold. The bitter wind. The dreaded "wintry mix." February throws enough at you already without having to go home and dive into some serious scrubbing. Luckily, the pros at Waterside Plaza’s first-rate Gemini Housekeeping services are offering not one, but two, great deals to help you get through the shortest month of the year that somehow always feels like the longest. Here are the details, simple and sweet: 


1. Save $10! Every time Gemini cleans your home in February, you deduct $10 from your total. And you can use this offer as many times as you like, all month long, so the sooner you get them in there, the sooner you can ask them back for another $10 savings!  

2. Kitchen, bath, living room: all totally clean, all for only $60! All month long you can order Gemini’s Essential Cleaning Package to take care of the parts of your home that need it most–the kitchen, the bathroom, the living room–for the special-value price of only $60. And it’s an especially great deal if you have roommate. 

To take advantage of either one of these month-long, time- and money-saving offers, call or stop by the management office, and Jayne will be happy to schedule a cleaning in your home. 212-420-4226



Five Favorite Cups of Coffee

There’s never really a BAD time to drink a really good cup of coffee, in our opinion, especially if said coffee is paired with a really good pastry of some sort. But as the New York City winter kicks in–the REAL, holidays-are-over winter–a hot shot or three of caffeine, prepared with love, is a particularly welcome complement to our day. Especially on the winter weekends, it seems, when we have a little extra time to savor: we love to take a break from our walking-around adventures, and sit somewhere warm, and re-energize. 

Although New York City is not really known as a hardcore coffee town (like, say, Seattle), we are catching up, with several new and newish coffee house that put as much care and attention into their beans as any demanding New Yorker would, um… demand. Below, then, and for various reasons, are our current five favorite cups of coffee, places for which we will walk blocks (and blocks) out of our way. 



Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Although there have been incursions into New York City from these Portland, Oregon, coffee fanatics before, last fall’s opening of this handsome, no-nonsense caffeine bar off the lobby of the Ace Hotel is the first full-fledged Stumptown Coffee Roasters on the East Coast. And what a beauty she is. The  coffee, no surprise, is superb: freshly roasted, freshly ground, freshly pulled by good-looking, mostly mustaschioed young baristas in ties and vests and vintage-y hats. And the accompanying baked goods–both sweet and savory–are outstanding, the best we’ve had at any coffee house in the city… which isn’t much of a surprise, really, as most of them come right from the kitchen of the excellent Breslin restaurant, also off the lobby of the Ace. Stumptown is located on a somewhat dreary stretch of town, on 29th Street, just east of Broadway, but the brew is so good here it’s almost a destination coffee house, especially if you carry your mug and treats into the fabulous Ace Hotel lobby, and kick back in one of their big, overstuffed chairs. 



Cafe Grumpy 

Like Stumptown, Cafe Grumpy takes its coffee seriously. They roast their single-origin beans on premises here, grind exactly enough for the cup you’ve just ordered, then brew it in their fabulously expensive Clover machines. The pastry selection is minimal, but well-sourced from local purveyors, and everything we’ve ever tried has been exactly right as an accompaniment to the main show, the mug in front of you. Sure, the ambiance is more than a little austere, but this is not a place to spend an afternoon Googling yourself, or goofing on Facebook; in fact, laptops aren’t allowed at the Park Slope outpost. Cafe Grumpy is a place to grab a cup of exceptional coffee, to stay or to go, and get on with your day feeling a whole lot better than you did ten minutes ago. 


Joe the Art of Coffee

Joe the Art of Coffee encourages sticking around and reading or chatting or doing whatever on your laptop at all of their five full-blown locations. In fact, Joe is so comfortable that it can be difficult, during peak hanging-out hours, to get a seat amidst the lingerers. But whether in the West Village, Chelsea, Grand Central, near Union Square, or on the Upper West Side, they never forget their primary purpose: the Art of Coffee. How to source it,  roast it, pull it, serve it with a smile. The treats are perhaps the weakest link here–the $1.75 cookies are tiny and just OK–but this is definitely our go-to spot for to-go caffeine in certain parts of town. 


Mud Coffee 

The hippie coffee shop is alive and more than well in the East Village, at Mudspot, a part of the psychedelic two-pronged coffee attack that also includes the can’t-miss-it bright orange Mud Truck. From the drippy signage to the ’60s music to the serviceable granola-y menu to the "secret garden" out back to the infectious laid-back vibe, Mud is a great place to chill and chat and munch out with friends if you’re in a certain sort of mood. If not, the take-out cups of Mud’s fresh-brewed, either from cafe or the truck, are first-rate and, as far as we’re concerned, certainly a step-up from any of the chains, Starbucks included, that have taken over the town. 


The Roasting Plant

Yes, it’s gimmicky, but it’s still pretty cool. When you order a coffee at the Roasting Plant, at either the West Village or Lower East Side locations, the barista will summon your cup’s-worth of freshly roasted beans from large cylinders lining the walls, and said beans will shoots through the so-called Javabot’s network of transparent pneumatic tubes–making a rattling racket along the way–and into the grinder behind the counter. The coffee gets pulled and frothed, etc., in regular fashion, and it’s a very good cup of the stuff, no doubt about it (the baked goodies are more like baked passables). But, in truth, it’s mostly the Javabot that keep us coming back.  


The Best in New York City Music Venues


In the end, it’s the music that matters most, of course. Heck, we’ve even gone to the awful Hammerstein Ballroom to see a favorite band. But when we’re just in the mood for a night out to some live music, or have been put in charge of amusing out-of-town guests, there are certain venues which we return to again and again. Below are a few of the best: iconic New York City spaces that have great sound, an interesting scene, and reliably solid booking… live-music venues at which we’d show up even if we have no idea who’s playing that night.  


The Bowery Ballroom / The Mercury Lounge

The original one-two punch of the peerless promoters at Bowery Presents, these two great venues are hands-down our favorite rock and roll (with a fiercely indie bent) venues in all of Manhattan. The Bowery Ballroom, the larger of the two, gets every well-known indie band that comes through (or lives in) New York City. Just about every night there’s a good show here. The intimate Mercury Lounge is a little more local, a little more underground in its music, but the quality of the bands is nearly always high. The sound at both is crisp and loud and bright: the best in town. The scene at the bar is hip and lively. A standing-room general admission ticket to either is almost always under $20, and often under $15. And though many shows sell out, they’re not greedy at Bowery Presents, so it never feels uncomfortably packed. Their Brooklyn outpost, the Music Hall of Williamsburg, is also first-rate.



Village Vanguard

We’ve heard it time and again, from jazz aficionados from all over the world: I don’t care what else I do in New York, as long as you take me to the Village Vanguard. Since 1935, when the legendary Max Gordon first opened the doors to this West Village club, the Vanguard has seen all the great ones grace its below-street-level stage, from Thelonius Monk to Miles Davis, Hank Mobley to Bill Evans’s Trio. Yes, it’s a cramped room, oddly-shaped and more than a little worn around the edges. But the ghosts… the ghosts at the Vanguard are palpable, and priceless.


Joe’s Pub / Le Poisson Rouge

For sheer variety of sounds, chatter, and other goings-on, it never hurts to see what’s happening at the Public Theater’s Joe’s Pub, or the scruffier, newish Le Poisson Rouge. Joe’s Pub–sit at a table; stand at the bar: drink, eat, listen–has surprised and delighted us for years with their eclectic bookings. A Joe’s Pub must see the next time they come around: Loser’s Lounge, a loose collective of musicians and singers who pick an artist?The Talking Heads, say, or Fleetwood Mac, or Queen, or Burt Bacharach–and cover a chunk of their canon. Le Poisson Rouge, on a rowdy stretch of Bleecker Street, makes up for its negatives–just a few seats, poor sightlines, at times overcrowded–with a refreshingly experimental lineup of acts, including underground hip hop artists, cultish rock bands doing acoustic sets, and some of the best "contemporary classical" composers and performers around.  



Pianos / Arlene’s Grocery / Cake Shop

In Manhattan, in the early aught years, hipster ground zero was on the Lower East Side, and, more specifically, on the stages (and at the bars… and spilling out into the streets…) of these three live-music clubs, Pianos, Arlene’s Grocery, and Cake Shop, all within a few blocks of each other. And though the area may have lost a little hipster heat of late, there’s still always something–a band, a scene, an outfit you’ve never imagined anyone would actually wear–worth checking out at all of these places, especially since there’s often no cover charge.


Cafe Carlyle and Bemelmans Bar

Finally, for a decidedly more upscale experience, get dressed to the nines (or, you know? the fives or sixes) and head on up to the Upper East Side’s tony Carlyle, home to two of New York City’s premiere big band / cabaret venues, the elegant Cafe Carlyle, and the (slightly) more casual Bemelmans Bar. Expect to pay upwards of $100 a seat at the Cafe Carlyle (and then double that for food and drinks); and the cover at Bemelmens isn’t cheap, either, but you won’t find a better place for a certain type of sophisticated, romantic, quintessentially New York City night on the town.  

This week only! Learn the skills you need to steer clear of danger on the road.


Ok, so defensive driving may not be the sexiest of skills. But when you’re out battling potholes on the BQE, or those massive, weaving semis on I-95, or even the crazy cabbies on Second Avenue, you (and your loved ones) can use all the help you can get. That’s why Waterside Plaza is pleased to provide our residents and friends with a tightly-focused, smart and sensible, DMV-approved, Defensive Driving Class.

For two nights only–and for only $35 per person–you’ll learn a host of safety tips and techniques that can make all the difference between a close call and an injury-threatening crash… or, better yet, ways to recognize and avoid such incidents in the first place. As a bonus, most car insurance companies give discounts to drivers who have taken such DMV-sanctioned classes, so you’ll earn back the entrance fee and then some.  


The Waterside Plaza Defensive Driving Class will be held on consecutive nights, this coming Wednesday and Thursday, January 13th and 14th, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Space is limited, so to ensure that you get a seat, please pre-register with Jayne at the 30 Waterside concierge desk, or call 212-340-4226, today.