Restaurant Love Letters: East One Roastery
In this new column, contributors, readers, fellow chefs, and casual diners share their “Restaurant Love Letters.” It’s our hope that this series highlights the spirit of hospitality, the importance of restaurants and dining culture to our economy, and more critically, to the fabric of our daily lives. This is our way of saying thank you to the industry, we appreciate you, and we’ll be waiting here for you when you get back.
There’s a lot to miss as we all wade through this crisis. The people, the places, the daily routines. I miss the old, beer-soaked dive and the swank, polished marble cocktail bar. I miss the rattle of the cup and saucer as a perfectly poured cappuccino is escorted my way by a caring server. The clink of coup glasses ushering in another weekend. The bartenders. The baristas. The smiles. “Anything else?” they ask. And although I’m a regular enough customer that they probably know the answer, it’s part of the ritual.
I miss saddling up at the bar or snagging a two-top. Elbow to elbow, drink to drink. The aromas or the steady hum of noises, the community of employees and patrons who fill the space, swirling in one another’s presence. I miss the nuances of those small nothings—that now, as we reflect, we realize actually meant so much. But mostly, I miss the intimacy of strangers. It’s a primal craving I have, for the most New York City of feelings: a sense of belonging through anonymity.
For all those reasons and more, I especially miss East One Coffee Roasters in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. I don’t know if it’s the giant windows pouring in beams of light or the staff’s relentless cheerfulness, but walking into East One, even under these new circumstances, a sense of calm washes over me.
I still go in for my cappuccino and croissant—but to-go these days, of course. I wait eagerly at the door, counting the number of people inside as to not overcrowd the once happily bustling space. A table up front is lined with bottles of wine, homemade granola, banana bread, and beer. A small rack on the side has branded t-shirts and toilet paper that are for sale as well. Anything to keep the doors open. To give us a dose of normalcy along with our shot of espresso. To ensure all the neighborhood regulars and I are happily caffeinated, and more importantly, to keep the staff employed.
I take in the smell of fresh-roasted beans and the warm butter of baking bread. I scan the baked goods delicately perched in the glass display, just as they were “before.” I already know what will be there, and I already know what I want. But I pause for a moment, before casually pointing to the pastry of choice. A pair of gloved hands delicately removes my croissant with the care of someone removing an egg from a nest to inspect it. It’s placed into a small paper bag, then slid across the counter.
I look up in gratitude. Behind a surgical mask is a smile. I know it’s there because I get the same feeling I would get while sitting there mere months ago with my cappuccino and saucer. When all seemed so utterly normal, so incredibly perfect. I can’t wait to sit in East One again. To sit there doing nothing, just sipping side by side with strangers.
Have a restaurant love letter you want to submit of your own? Reach out to us.