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celebrating the glories of eating in brooklyn. from the gut.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

St. Helen Cafe: A Williamsburg Retreat

Whenever I wander through Williamsburg, I always wonder what lies off Bedford Avenue? There's got to be more to all the hipster hype than this. In fact there is. Off the main avenue, artisanal shops are sprinkled here and there which allows for a sense of discovery.

Having won "Best Latte" in 2004 by New York Magazine, St. Helen Cafe is hardly undiscovered, yet stumbling upon it was a pleasant surprise.

The cafe is tiny and dark, making optimal use of existing architectural elements like paneling and the tin ceiling. The wood is painted glossy black and large photographs of nature hang above the banquette. Tasteful symbols of forestry and nature, like deer and birds, are dotted throughout the cafe and the name itself invokes the Northwestern U.S. It's a comfortable place to let time go by.

The small and inexpensive menu offers mainly snack foods like variations on grilled cheese. Not hungry, I opted for the mulled wine, which I unfortunately had to send back. It tasted like the spices were thrown in at the last minute, then nuked. For $8.00 I wasn't having any of it. But that didn't turn me off. I chose instead a Brooklyn lager from their small selection of global beers.

All the while, people from the neighborhood slipped inside and around to the side of the kitchen to grab that award-winning latte to go.

St. Helen Cafe is located at 150 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn.

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