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French Roast 1 Brasseries Breakfast French Greenwich Village

The many restaurants in this chain try to project the illusion of dining at a Parisian café. At any hour of the day or night, one can sample their comprehensive menu, ordering anything from a simple, buttery croissant to a full meal beginning with soup a l'oignon gratinee followed by steak frites, mussels provencal, or just a delectable dessert of chocolate mousse or creme brulee. I have been at several of their locations throughout Manhattan, most with different names and each has always been delicieux.

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French Roast 1 Brasseries Breakfast French Greenwich Village
French Roast 2 Brasseries Breakfast French Greenwich Village

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Lost Gem
Alphabet Scoop 1 Ice Cream undefined

Alphabet Scoop

The ice cream at Alphabet Scoop is refreshing in more ways than one: Managed by Robbie Vedral, Alphabet Scoop is an extension of Father’s Heart Ministry, which has been focused on empowering the neighborhood youth in the Lower East Side since 2005. Robbie, for his part, has always believed that if you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of you—in this case, those employees just so happen to be high schoolers from the East Village. Under the wishes of his parents, who are still pastors of the church next door, Robbie has taken it upon himself to hold Alphabet Scoop to an uncompromising standard, always ensuring that things are done right. From a background of 25 years in retail, Robbie has found that he can learn from anyone’s mistakes - including his own. He has, in this vein, adjusted the shop’s schedule to keep it open all year; previously it was just a summer stop, but Robbie found that being a seasonal location made it more difficult for customers to anticipate when Alphabet Scoop would be in business. So, now, rather than seasonal hours, Alphabet Scoop boasts seasonal flavors. Pistachio flavor, a summer 2019 special, comes highly recommended by the Manhattan Sideways team. Alphabet Scoop is also constantly experimenting with new flavors suggested to them by customers, so if you’ve been saving up that million-dollar ice cream flavor idea, Alphabet Scoop might just be the place to make it a reality. The “sweet n’ salty” flavor is proof of the potential here, as it was suggested by one of the shop’s  younger customers. While the spritely New Yorkers that work in the shop are paid for their work, Alphabet Scoop is also a non-profit. The mission, transparently, is as stated on the walls: “Justice & Sprinkles for all. ” The kids, typically between the ages of 14 and 16, learn all aspects of the business, from hands on skills such as making ice cream to managerial skills like taking inventory. The goal of Alphabet Scoop is to encourage maximum involvement from its employees, so they are invited to help make decisions about the business. Robbie told us a story of a young woman, for example, who has worked in the shop for close to two years, and who was initially quite difficult to work with - but with patience and persistence from Robbie and other employees, the young woman grew to better understand the mission of Alphabet Scoop, and now even has keys to the shop. Robbie’s work at Alphabet Scoop shows the importance of creating strong foundations for young people, as well as how truly influential small businesses can be in their communities. Stop by the shop - any time of year - to help Robbie make his impact.

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Lost Gem
Tocqueville 1 American French undefined


A dining spot where the noise level is low, the ambience is urbane, the staff delightful, and the food unparalleled, Tocqueville came highly recommended by critics and friends alike. The restaurant, known for its local and seasonal ingredients with ties to the Union Square Green Market, was the first of five venues owned by husband and wife Marco Moreira and Jo-Ann Makovitzky, which includes 15 East. Along with a grand main dining room, Tocqueville offers a private dining space, a bar with house mixes, and an award-winning wine list by Master Sommelier and Sake Samurai Roger Dagorn. On my first visit, I joined a friend for a ladies' lunch with uninterrupted conversation. We started out with Sunchoke Soup, moved to the House Made Tofu, and ended with Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto - all flawless in taste and presentation. The European charm of the high ceilings, elegant tableware, and spectacular chandelier was certainly not lost on us. But behind the scenes of this tranquil atmosphere, a vivacious chef breathes passion into the edible creations. “I like to eat and I like to travel, ” Chef Julien Wargnies told me. “That is why I cook. ” Once an elite soccer player in France, Chef Julien fell into cooking organically, without any premonition of talent or joy for the art. Since attending a prestigious, four-year culinary school, he has been the executive chef in many impressive restaurants. While the meal I shared confirms the chef’s gastronomic expertise, it is his good wit, childlike curiosity, and affability that animate the underbelly of Tocqueville. Fumes of fresh-baked dough filled the kitchen as the chef told me of his latest endeavor - a promising savory, French-inspired take on panna cotta with a horseradish base. He enjoys concocting new things, never getting too stuck on any one dish. When I asked him what his favorite thing to cook was he curled up his lips and answered, “You, ” sending the kitchen staff and myself into fits of laughter. When it was almost time to part, I asked the chef to have his picture taken, and before I knew it all the moving parts of the operation came together in their white and black aprons with big, toothy smiles. Only a backstage crew so cohesive and lively could put on such a seamless dinning room show.