I made the journey to Berkli Parc Cafe through the rain, on the way hoping I wouldn’t be disappointed. Berkli Parc opened up less than a year ago directly across a Starbucks. I initially categorized it as a sandwich shop, and neglected to notice they were also known for their coffee. Instead of getting a sandwich, I ended up with a Strawberry Fields ($3.75/$4.25)–one of their specialty drinks–and a Pistachio Biscotti (75 cents).
Although the décor (heavy wood, high ceilings with hanging, uncovered bulbs) could have led you to suspect it was another hipster establishment on the Lower East Side, the service was genuinely friendly. I sat down and realized the 22 bulbs weren’t actually lighting up the café; it was the large windows on both walls that allowed the afternoon sunlight to stream in. I sat down on one of the large dining-style wooden tables and waited for my order, and people-watched of course.
It certainly wasn’t crowded, and everyone was quietly enjoying a book or the free WiFi. There was music playing through the six Bose speakers, suggesting that the owner took pride in his business.
The Strawberry Fields arrived with some art, and had a reddish-brown tint on the surface. The drink is made with their “secret” strawberry syrup, steamed milk, and two shots of espresso. I took a sip and confirmed that it was as satisfying as it was aesthetically pleasing. There was a faint strawberry aroma and when I asked Zach a question about the sauce, he wouldn’t answer whether it was homemade or not. The interplay between the typical bitterness of an espresso and the tickling sweetness of the strawberry balanced the cup well.
The Pistachio Biscotti, which they make themselves, was another winner. Crunchy and evenly light, I found the pistachio’s nuttiness to be a great complement to my drink.
And yes, they use real pistachios, not a cheap flavoring. I noticed that they had a “free biscotti with a check-in” offer, so I grabbed one for my sister.
Berkli Parc feels like the perfect cafe for the fall, and winter, where you can get shelter from the storm brewing outside (and a view of it!). I didn’t want my experience to end, and contemplated getting their popular Grilled Cheese on levain from Balthazar ($7.00). Even more tempting was the Almond Mocha, but I saved it for another day. I left Berkli Parc having an experience that makes you feel good to be alive.