Just because I live in New York, the assumption generally is that I know all the good places. The truth of the matter is that when it comes to hotels or restaurants in Times Square, I’m usually less clued in than most tourists. Why? Because I live here! I live with the illusion – or delusion – that I’ll get to it, whatever “it” is, in due course. The reality is not in sync with that thought.
Because I do live here, I am usually annoyed by what I perceive to be the rip-offs in the more tourist-centered areas, like Times Square. Although eateries there are a dime a dozen, trying to get something good to eat for a dime, or at least a reasonable price, is elusive. When meeting friends in that area, we usually resort to the tried, true, and predictable: Starbucks. On truly unimaginative or “what the hell” jaunts, we’ve met at Mama Sbarro’s where a slice of pizza and a drink will set you back $10. Since I know where to get a whole pizza for $8, I ought to get my head examined for acquiescing to such a shake-down!
On a recent excursion to the area, we discovered Caffe Bene, on the corner of Broadway and West 49th Street. We were game, so we went in…this is what we found out:
The first thing I noticed is that there are waffles on the menu, all kinds of waffles with delectable toppings. I opted for the banana-caramel-chocolate-whipped cream confection while my partner in crime went the fresh strawberries and Greek yogurt route. My selection, accompanied by a medium coffee, set me back a whopping $8.50. What a bargain! The waffles are prepared to order and appetizingly plated. Suddenly, my experience went from grabbing a nosh to hangin’ at the bistro!
While it’s possible to just grab a quick bite at the counter and run, there are several eating areas at this location. There are the tables and steel counters by the windows that are standard in most Starbucks. There is also a book-lined room in the back of the restaurant with a cozy, library feel to it. We opted for the area upstairs which has a sleek, modern feel to it from the art lining the walls behind the banquette, and warmed by the wood tables and another wall of books. There is free wi-fi and the password is posted by the sugar and cream station. The music was pleasant, neither memorable nor intrusive, and the vibe was relaxed: a rarity in Times Square!
So, if you’re in Times Square and need a place to meet, a nosh, or just hang out with your laptop, give Caffe Bene a try. It gets this New Yorker’s seal of approval!