Monday, January 23, 2006

Comfortzone on 5th Ave

It seems like there's a new restaurant, café or bar every five minutes in Park Slope. Not that I mind, beyond feeling a but overwhelmed at all the choices and worrying that as the hipster cafés creep southward, so may our rent creep upward, &c. I do enjoy eating good food (as one may see by my "waist"line) and am generally too lazy to cook, so there you go.

At any rate, after a reasonable brunch at the insanely busy Daisey's Diner yesterday (are they really that cheap or good, people?) and some sulky shopping and errand-running, M and I both decided to take our grumpy moods to a coffee shop where she could do some meaningful work for the good of mankind and I could read my New Yorker in peace. We meant to try out some new place way north on 4th Ave or perhaps indulge at The Chocolate Room, but ended up in a joint we'd never noticed before, the Comfortzone Café Lounge on 5th Ave between 1st and 2nd.

Now, I'd seen this place being constructed, but I guess I went into one of my several-month fugue states because it suddenly seemed it was plopped onto 5th Ave out of nowhere to me (maybe they got new awnings?). As we read the menu and peered into the window, a friendly looking woman beckoned to us to enter. I figured she was the owner and, judging by the menu, she was Turkish. Right on both counts.

Comfortzone, besides being something of a lame moniker, is fairly apt. In front there is a bar with a glass counter display of yummy Turkish snacks like stuffed grape leaves, labni and various pastries, along with some short tables with ottomans to sit on. In the back, besides exposed-brick walls, paintings by Park Slope-based artist Jonathan Blum and a cute deck patio, there are a number of comfy couches and coffee tables. The over-all décor is clean and relaxing, but perhaps a bit too spare and bright to be homey. This doesn't seem to deter people from lounging, as evidenced not only by the attendance of locals from stroller-bound to elderly, but from a discreet sign stating that those who occupy seats without ordering will be charged $6/hr (which I initially thought was off-putting, but M judged as "awesome" in the face of the plague of couch-hogs that generally take over other lounges).

What is commonly called "lite" but I refer to as "smooooove jazz" plays in the background, although apparently there are often musicians performing. During our visit, a fairly talented and attractive young man called "Boo Boo Cousins" performed a brief solo spot with his acoustic guitar (he was pretty good, if perhaps not in the best venue to shine - I still give him three stars for the name, alone).

None of this would convince me to make this a regular hang out, but then we had a snack. It turns out the food and drinks are phenomenal. The Harney & Sons Bangkok tea I ordered came in an ornate teapot with a gilded Turkish tea glass, several sweetening options including a rock-sugar stick, and a small coconut and fruit cookie that complemented the lemongrass, coconut and ginger elements of the green tea beautifully. M had a mocha, which was full-bodied with a subtle hint of chocolate and came with a spice cookie to match. The well-done presentation of these items made them feel as special as they tasted.

We also ordered lebni, which was out-of-this-world. The full cream yogurt was thick but not sour, blended with walnut, dill, garlic & olive oil and accompanied by cucumber slices and fresh, warm Turkish bread. Finally, we had an order of baklava, which was both intensely sweet and fresh - some of the best I've ever tasted.

In short, the atmosphere was comfortable and food really wowed us. I'm not sure how crowded it gets at other times on other days, and it can easily get loud if one too many kids comes in, as was happening as we were leaving. Still, I would definitely return on a quiet Sunday afternoon to catch up on The Onion in the slanting sunlight and sample some more Turkish delights.

No comments: