Weeks ago now was when C and I ventured uptown on a pedestrian jaunt to Union Square, where we were going to dine at that eponymous Café par M. Meyer. I say ‘going to’ because the hostess neglected to tell us, when seating us at the bar, that they stopped serving the restaurant week menu promptly at 2:00pm, and no, we would not like to try our hand at managing the regular one. And so, bereft, we drifted across the park, drowning slowly in an idyll slightly too warm for comfort, wondering where god was indeed in this crowded, forsaken land.
In other words, I sulked for a bit and C yelped it on his iPhone to decide what to do next.
I remembered there was a little place I’d been meaning to try, a ways further up but one that would, I hoped, be worth it.
And that was how we found ourselves at Park Avenue and 28th st. Just like that!
Fika means, in Swedish, a coffee break with something sweet. It has connotations of leisure, company, and appreciative enjoyment. What a beautiful, delightful word.
And a great name for the coffeeshop/patisserie too, it turns out. There are three locations in Manhattan and all of them, I’m led to believe, are just as sleek and well-designed as its Swedish heritage would suggest.
We enjoyed a nice little lunch of whole-grain rolls with arugula and hard cheese, a hearty homemade granola bar, and a lingonberry truffle to go with the espresso. And did I enjoy that espresso. It was remarkable and so different than most I’ve tried here. There was a calming minerality on the nose, sedimentary soil and wet stone, giving way to something like dilute deep ocean water, not briny but definitely of the sea, like a halocline, or mangrove dew. It finished with reishi mushroom, old, wise, asymptotically long. I wrote in my notes that it was “a quiet espresso, a welcome breath”. I think I agree with my past self, because I still remember it as something unto itself and pleasantly different in a city of boldness, acidity, fruits, caramels, and vegetables, sometimes.
We returned to Union Square Café a few days later. I had my first glass of Puligny-Montrachet. It was love at first sip. I revelled in the hints of young stone fruit balanced with its trademark minerality, and couldn’t help but think of that espresso at Fika. I’ll be on the lookout for their other locations when it comes time for another leisurely espresso and something sweet.