Friday, March 16, 2007

The Fika pause that refreshes

The other day I was off and found myself walking on West 58th Street behind the big construction site that is The Plaza Pied-a-Terre, as they're calling it now. I'd seen this little espresso bar before, but for some reason thought it was Japanese. Turns out it's called Fika and it's Swedish. Like Stockholm, where Cait is at the moment. Fika, I've now learned, is like what the British (or, well, Paddington at least) used to call Elevensies. It's about taking a break from work to have a coffee and a snack with friends: simple, universal enough concept, no? (And yet how refreshing to make it into an institution like siesta or something.) This being the case, most of the clientele of the shop are people who work around that area, between Fifth and Sixth. So I guess I stood out as not being a regular when I walked in, because the cute Swedish girl behind the counter remarked on the fact that I hadn't been in before, and she was right. I then intended to ask how long the shop had been open, but instead -- me the native English speaker -- wasn't precise enough in my wording, and she thought the "you" in my question meant her instead of her cafe. So she told me in nearly accent-less English that she's been here for eight weeks. After she'd poured a wonderfully well-made cup of cappuccino and I picked out a Swedish cinnamon bun (slightly different than the ones I'm used to, but all the better for it), she went back to chatting in Swedish with the other people in the shop. Score one for coffee diversity. I'm always in search of great coffee shops that aren't Starbucks, and this one certainly fits the bill. More at restaurantgirl.

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