After teasing us with its window dressing for eight months, Aroma Espresso Bar, an Israeli chain, has finally opened its U.S. flagship in the ground floor retail space of the 160 Wooster St. condos (actually at the corner of Greene and Houston streets) at the edge of Soho. It's definitely worth a visit, and Time Out claims it's open 24/7, a little detail I didn't notice last night as I stopped in for a sandwich and a lemonade. It's conveniently located diagonally across the street from the Angelika, so I can see it becoming an alternative to the film center's own cafe, which is short on fresh substantive food. Aroma, while not exactly cheap, doesn't feel so out of class with a $10.75 movie ticket, making up for the extra dollar or two with Mediterranean-influenced salads and sandwiches that are a refreshing cut above. Decent-sized half-sandwiches hover in the $4 range, and the coffee prices seemed to be on par with Starbucks. You order your food and then they line it up for you along the bar as the different components arrive. I had a delicious omelet and veggie sandwich on wheat germ bread that could not at all be confused with the egg and cheese croissant at Dunkin Donutsthough I'll admit to enjoying those on occasion, too. I'd had my fill of caffeine for the day, so I'll have to try the coffee another time.
I wish I could give as glowing of a review to Clerks II, which opened last night. It certainly had its moments, and if you have a soft spot for Kevin Smith movies, then by all means go. It just feels too slick and Hollywood to be a proper sequel to the indie flick that kicked off this auteur's career. The story is disappointing and cliche, but the non sequiturs, pop culture riffs, and silly performances are what make it worth seeing. The character of Elias, except for the end, is especially endearing in a pathetic sort of way as he utters "one ring to rule them all" with innocent awe and describes the unappreciated value of the Transformers ("they're more than meets the eye"). The "ABC" dance sequence is pretty funny, too.