(Image from polyvore.com)
If you’re looking for a charming café that really looks like something out of an old French movie, you’ve found it. Café Lalo serves pastries and light, healthy fare on the Upper West Side in an airy little building. Not only can you get over 100 different desserts and top-notch cheese platters, they also expanded their bar. On Friday and Saturday nights it’s open until 4 AM.
When I was there I ordered a goat cheese and mint sandwich on whole wheat bread. They weren’t stingy with the goat cheese, and the sandwich came with both greens and Mediterranean salad. I like the food there: they use their imaginations to pair things and there’s nothing fake about it, but it isn’t spectacular. On the other hand, I haven’t tried the cheese or the wine but I’m assuming they’re great from the feel of the place. Café Lalo’s claim to fame is the desserts.
It was difficult to pick a dessert when my options ranged from red velvet cake to dulce de leche cheesecake to lemon mascarpone cake to a Venetian vanilla crepe. You learn to tell whether desserts are good or not from looking at them: the good stuff is soft and a bit fluffy. You can tell they didn’t add superfluous ingredients to impress gluttons who think denser is better. (If you pick up a Ho Ho you may notice that it’s about as heavy as a baseball.) I settled on Chocolate Respberry Delight: a chocolate and raspberry mousse cake with a chocolate cookie crust. It was predictably phenomenal.
But I have to point out that my favorite thing about Café Lalo is the shirts. They carry women’s and men’s shirts, in black and white, featuring the same beautiful types of semi-fantasy postcard-type art that’s on the walls of the café. I have one with a lady riding a zebra, a lady sucking her fingers after eating cake, the Statue of Liberty, a Can Can dancer, and several others. They’re $25 each and you’ll wear them for the rest of your life.
My Rating: 8
Recommended Dish: Any dessert
Atmosphere: Airy, cheerful café filled with light and beautiful art on the walls.
Clientele: Arty types, Upper West Side moms with kids
Price Range: $20-$35 per person
201 West 83rd Street
New York, NY 10024