After satisfying my beer craving, the next thing I went in search of was a good espresso. I was surprised to discover that despite the large Italian population in NYC, that finding a hard core modern espresso was a bit of a challenge. Names that I found were "Casa" on 9th Ave at 40th, Ninth Street Espresso (at Avenue C), Via Quadronno 73rd St near 5th, and few others. Casa was close to the hotel so I tried it first. Apparently it's now a muffin shop. Sigh. Strike one.
Next I tried Ninth Street Espresso, took the A to 14th, then the L to 1st. Walked about a half mile to 9th and Ave C. This place had wooden benches out front with bikes chained to the rail and kids with messenger bags smoking out front. Looked good. Insidethe "house rules" said things like "no half-regular half-decaf" and the menu was reassuringly brief, with the magical words "all coffee drinks are made triple ristretto." This looked very promising.
First, a single espresso. The crema was maybe a little dark, but the coffee had a nice aroma. It was thick slightly sweet and maybe a touch bitter (which may sound odd to 99.9% of the population for whom all espresso is bitter and ristretto is ridiculously bitter) maybe slightly over extracted or over roasted? But that was a quibble - this was espresso that invited critical scrutiny.
Next a double, with a croissant. Served in a slightly larger cup, the flavor was just as good as the last, and the thick crema lasted all the way to the bottom of the cup. Ahhh. The croissant was unremarkable, but I had come here for the coffee and coffee I had found.