July 4, 2010

Iris Cafe

Iris Cafe is one of those places that I wish I had opened myself. The idea, menu and set-up are simple, but well placed and well done enough to make it a success. And if you visit during lunch or brunch hours, you'll see what I mean by success.

Located at the southwest corner of Brooklyn Heights, there's not many options close by and no other eating options on this tiny street, which means low foot traffic. But those that live in the neighborhood know it's there and seek it out, and they seem to have won over some regulars. There is a moderate amount of seating, conveniently placed hooks for jackets and bags, and one designated laptop table (free wifi is available), located close to an outlet. The counter is located at the back, and patrons are expected to bus their own tables.

The menu offers Stumptown coffee, expertly brewed, excellent sandwiches for lunch, and a few baked goods and egg items for breakfast. I have sampled the coffee, ham and cheese biscuit (nice salty-sweet flavor, coffee + biscuit = nice snacky breakfast), and the yogurt and homemade granola (creamy and crunchy, but I would have appreciated some fruit). I'll be visiting yet again for an early lunch sometime soon, and it's a nice place to sit with a laptop, as long as it's an off time (i.e., not lunch and not a weekend). They also sell local milk and few other choice items. -Laurel

Just look at that biscuit. Looks absolutely delicious, right? Trust me, it tastes as good as it looks - which definitely isn't always true. I love Iris Cafe. It gives me everything I miss from the South, and it does it well.

Laurel and I ventured there one early afternoon to grab a snack and weren't at all disappointed. It's a bit of a trek down to the restaurant, but it's as nice walk. I like to pretend I'm filthy rich and live in one of the brownstones that line the streets on the way down to the cafe. It's a nice game to play with yourself. Luckily, the food at Iris Cafe isn't as expensive as the surrounding homes, so it can be enjoyed by those of us who are...poor.

When we went the place wasn't super crowded, but the flow was steady, and we had to snag a seat quickly. It's quite small, so it fills up pretty easily. Everyone who works there is super nice and helpful, and the food comes out pretty quickly. I had cheese grits and a soft boiled egg on a ham and cheddar biscuit. The grits were a bit runny for me (I like them firm), but they had so much flavor I didn't put anything extra in them besides a bit of salt and pepper. Normally I like my grits with sugar (I'm not sure that's even a Southern thing, it's probably just a Holder thing), but I certainly enjoyed these grits as they were - salty and savory. The biscuit, as Laurel said, was salty and delicious, and the moderately runny egg on top was the perfect combination. I over-salted the egg (broke the first rule of dining, I salted before I tasted). It doesn't need any more salt when complimented with the biscuit.

As Laurel mentioned, you should definitely get there early if you want the breakfast offerings mentioned here. We went one day around 3pm or 4pm and they were completely sold out of every pastry, including baguettes. They did have sandwiches, which they made on regular sliced bread, but I was craving that biscuit, so I was disappointed. I'll go back soon - I'm still craving it even now... -Jennifer

Address: 20 Columbia Place (btw Joralemon and Atlantic Ave)

Website: Yelp

Payment: Cash Only

Delivery: no

Open Late: no

Large Group Friendly: no

Bar/Happy Hour: no alcohol

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