Upon entering Village Coffee and Goods, located on Railroad Avenue around the corner from Frank Guido’s Little Italy, my first impression was of delight at the sense of unity in design, light and energy flow within the comfortable specialty coffee shop. The spot is basically pitch-perfect for those seeking a more low-key and parking-friendly option while still enjoying a very high-quality (but affordable) menu.
It used to be that the only halfway-decent cup of coffee you could find in Midtown was at Monkey Joe’s. While MJ is a beloved Kingston staple, it’s awesome to have a relatively new place between Uptown and the waterfront open up (in addition to the fine folks at Pakt) that’s healthy and classy. Let’s face it — while this is a nightlife column, brunching is also a key component of surviving any great weekend and that requires good coffee and food. There is also a delightful grocery area adjacent to a stunning locally milled counter space which offers healthy selections, including some beautiful produce.
Charming co-owners Mark Palmer and Anthea White serve Toby’s Estate Coffee, a small batch specialty roaster in Brooklyn, alongside breakfast and lunch fare, such as croque forestier, egg dishes, fritattas, homemade granola, pastries, salads and sandwiches. On Wednesday, a.k.a. Cake Day at Village, goods from their in-house baker take top billing. Gluten-free and vegan options are available and breakfast and lunch are served all day. Open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., this spot is bound to become more popular as time passes and people realize how fabulous it is and in such a great location as an alternative to more cluttered venues. There is even a back room with a stunning grand piano which is going to serve as a live music and event space more often once an alcohol license is procured.
“We bought a place just over a year ago,” Anthea White tells me. The couple moved here from New York but originally met in Australia before getting together in Japan. Somehow that led them to eventually be in our humble city of Kingston. White elaborates: “We weren’t planning on staying in upstate New York. We loved the amazing people and nature. We wanted our son to have trees and grass and not just look out the window and see concrete everywhere.”
I asked White how the couple ended up interested in the art of giving people amazing coffee experiences, among other things.
“Since we came to America, Mark has really gotten more interested in coffee, which is ironic because Australia is really known for coffee and food. It’s there but a lot of his additional experience came from here. We used to live around the corner from a place in the West Village called Buvette. As she was opening we kept walking past and looking in and she was looking for a barista. Mark ended up doing it and learned a lot of food stuff through her as well.”
The menu is based around local produce.
“Lots of people use local stuff but there really is so much great local stuff,” White says.
“We worked on relationships with farmers first so that everything is fresh, seasonal and inspired by what’s around us,” chimes in Palmer enthusiastically, stepping from behind the kitchen area to join us. “We opened the week that ramps were ramping up, pardon the pun. We made a ramp cilantro pesto which became the foundation for our ‘Brekkie Sambo,’ one of our more popular items. It is always evolving with whatever else is coming up.”
I discuss with the couple how it must be nice for them as parents to be able to have their child see them in a healthy food environment and to use it as a good way of establishing familiarity with good choices within a practical environment.
“We don’t have any processed foods in here,” Palmer says. “Only having good foods around them is also the best way to feed them.”
“We try to eliminate plastic as well. It can slow things down a bit but we wanted people to not have to take home annoying containers that you end up throwing out,” says White. “We decided to just buy jars and you can bring the jar back and get a dollar back. You might use a glass jar, as well. It is more likely than plastic tubs. You may as well do that than do the same as what everybody else is doing.”
While there is an additional prep area, all of the main food and coffee orders are done behind the central bar in the front room. There is ample room for casual readers and bohemian types to chill out and enjoy a window-side beverage and meal paired with a book, or to gaze at a tablet with a relative feeling of privacy regardless of if there are other customers or not. The couple knew it was possible to do nearly everything from the front of house of the establishment and went through a startling 50 versions or so of designs before settling on a pretty perfect set up. As someone who has worked a lot of jobs, including prep, I was very impressed with the layout’s pragmatic qualities for staff and customers. Perhaps they’re just great at Tetris or learned a thing or two from packing vans with equipment?
I should have mentioned that White and Palmer are also musicians in a cool soulful duo called The Hipstones who have been gaining fans in the area and recently were even a part of O-Positive Festival. See, this was also about nightlife after all, even if we are mainly discussing their café as a perfect place to recuperate with healthy food and caffeine from a long Saturday night. Check out www.villagecoffeeandgoods.com for more.