Café Gitane

When Jourdan, Brit, and I decided to do a French Day, we chose to stick in SoHo because there is a nice cluster of French restaurants, bakeries, and boutiques in the area to choose from.  The main stop would, of course, be brunch.  We weren’t looking for anything too pricey so we settled on Café Gitane.  Though this was always knows as the kind of place to be seen if you’re a model (I’m not), it seems to have cooled down a bit and we didn’t have to wait too long for a table.

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I started with a Kir because it felt very French.  I also really liked the coupe it came in, with it’s measurement line etched on the side.  We sipped on our cocktails as the food began to arrive.  Brit and Jourdan started with the baked feta, a great choice for those who are into Mediterranean flavors.  It looked great but I didn’t try it because I couldn’t go to Café Gitane and not order the avocado toast.  This restaurant is essentially responsible for the avocado trend that is still going very strong.  I had to taste the original to know what could have been so good that it could launch a legitimate craze.  I have to say, it’s really good avo toast.  The avocado is mashed to the perfect consistency, the bread is hearty and grain-filled, and they show restraint when it comes to toppings like olive oil and chili flakes.  I get it.

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The rest of the food was solid.  I ordered the baked eggs in tomato with merguez and enjoyed it, particularly the merguez, which is not something you can find everywhere.  Overall, the food is not mind blowing, but it’s a wonderful example of French café food.  Simple with nice quality ingredients.  French people don’t use a ton of condiments so you won’t find a ton here.  No muss, no fuss.

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What we didn’t love: the service.  I get that we were taking up one of the few 4-person tables (which is a lot in a place this size), but there wasn’t a line of people waiting and they were very much rushing us out the door.  The plate for my avocado toast was taken away as I was very clearly eating it.  Like holding the piece of toast and chewing when they took the plate away, leaving me no place to put down the toast between bites.  When they dropped off the check it was quite literally thrown on the table with enough force to make me jump from the loud noise it made as it clattered on the table.  Way to play into the French stereotype.  Aside from the service, I quite enjoyed the meal.  It’s not the kind of place where I would wait an hour for a table, but if a seat is open, I’m happy to grab it.  This is exactly the type of place you want to be when you want to really feel like you’re in SoHo.  It’s a tiny little place with simple but good food and some very nice people watching.