Java Jerks of the Upper East Side: A Sampling of Super Expensive if not always Super Premium Coffee

1) Via Quadronno (73rd and Madison) Proudly and prohibitively expensive, this super-authentic Italian place sets the price point at private club levels.  Namely, your annual dues are included with each cup.  That said, it’s a decent shot, pulled with enthusiasm and authority by a rotating cast of characters.  Pleasantly and commitedly bitter cup. 

 2) Sant Ambroeus (77th and Madison) Best looking counter for coffee drinking in town. Cappuccinos are beautiful and expensive.  Espressos are expensive and not particularly beautiful.  Good thick crema.  Balanced enough flavor to make sugar unnecessary.  N.B. Waiters have itchy fingers for rounding error tips and don’t seem inclined to return metal change.  Such habits are fine for a cabbie, but they’re uncool here at almost five dollars for a double.

 3) Café Sabarsky (86th and Fifth) Espresso was burnt popcorn flavored on one occasion, merely burned on another.  Stick to the delicious drip coffee or the Viennese concoctions and you’ll be much happier. Available papers to read–in English and German–gorgeous Vienna café space and no rush from staff make up for shortcomings in the cup.  If you’re looking for a dessert coffee, and the perfect counterweight to the Starbucks milkshake in a mug, get your coffee here Mitt Schlag.  Real whipped cream is a thing of beauty.  

 4) Lady M Cake Boutique (78th and Madison) Winner for highest price in a high rent district.  Coffee is adequate to excellent.  Cakes–all of them-are delicious.  Not a place that sees a lot of male foot traffic.  That’s okay.  Skip Ray’s Pizza for a week and save your pennies.  This is a far more enlightened slice.

5) Pain Quotidien (84th and Madison)  The bread is anything but quotidian and the coffee is surprisingly good.  Table service may be erratic but counter folks are great.  I was charged a single price for a double, keeping me under 3 dollars for once.  A light espresso, in the French/Belgian mode, but perfectly adequate and served with, yes, a smile.


8 Responses to “Java Jerks of the Upper East Side: A Sampling of Super Expensive if not always Super Premium Coffee”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Sabarsky for feeling like I’m in Vienna, Via Quadronno for feeling like I’m in Rome and Sant Ambroeus for feeling like I’m getting ripped off in Venice.

  2. FaHFS Says:

    Dean & Deluca makes a decent drip, but I go there for the Doughnut Plant doughnuts, not the coffee. I’d rather have two–especially coconut cream and peanut butter & jelly–and skip the espresso.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Starbucks on Lex doesn’t make the cut? Just kidding.

  4. FaHFS Says:

    To my delight, the smiling server at Pain Quotidien yesterday once again undercharged me, though the baker’s oleaginous blueberry muffin somewhat muted by general enthusiasm. Only problem with espresso here is the effect of drinking it from a large paper coffee to go cup. Tentative crema disperses, nose is lost and other nose (my nose) gets doused in coffee slop. Still, a good deal in an area which finds bargains anathema.

    Sant Ambroeus on the other hand was less friendly this morning. F-bombing barista offered a little more New York culture than I want at four bucks a pop. If you’re going to curse in front of customers, at least do it in a lovely Romance language! There’s no romance in the Anglo-Saxon f word, nor hospitality in uttering it in my presence, no matter how much wrong your former boyfriend has visited upon you.

  5. tigerdog Says:

    Yes, there’s a second coffee corridor on Lexington, particularly around 71st and 72nd streets, including Oren’s, Sicaffe, Corrado and at least one more. It’s a bit out of range for me, but I’ll give it a shot sooner or later.

  6. FaHFS Says:

    Just stopped by Sicaffe. Espresso is well made, no doubt. Roasting machine is a nice touch, though turned off on Sundays. Only gripe: this is not a coffee-passionate staff. No need for caff-addled coffee geeks, but a little enthusiasm and knowledge would go a long way. The place, and the staff, have the calm, cold competence of a Juan Valdez coffee shop or any of the other well-run, soulless bean houses around town.

  7. FaHFS Says:

    N.B. Best Oren’s in the City is the one at Grand Central. Fast, friendly and knowledgeable. And they keep a good sound track going, too.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Saw Fergie at Sant Ambroeus today. She was enjoying a flute of champagne and chatting up the staff.

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