Happy Labor Day everyone! As the summer season comes to a close, so does the season of wearing crisp whites and nautical stripes. So for one last summer weekend, we are taking you to Café Gitane at the Jane, where the legends of sailors and shipmen live on!
New York is a city full of secrets and among those secrets are darling little cafés tucked into all sort of pockets and hollows throughout Gotham. This particular café has two locations, but one of them is the elusive Jane Hotel. Originally a hotel for sailors, the Jane Hotel was apparently the refuge site for survivors of the Titanic, and has since functioned as an off-Broadway theatre and a ballroom. Now a New York City landmark, the Jane Hotel is still full of secrets, including the adorable Café Gitane.
Enter the grand entrance of the Jane Hotel on far corner of Jane Street and West Street, near the Pier 51 playground on the Hudson River Park. There you will find a French-Moroccan-themed establishment boasting accented waitresses in perfectly pressed uniforms and a bohemian décor that is reminiscent of both the Epcot Center at Disneyworld and Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!. The closest subway stations are the 14th Street station on the 1, 2, or 3 trains, or the 8th Avenue stop on the L train. Café Gitane also has another location on Mott Street, though not attached to a historic hotel.
The menu is extensive and features French-Mediterranean fare at generally affordable prices. Their most popular item is an avocado toast, which has seen rising popularity since the settlement of California and the onset of celebrity lifestyle blogs. Unfortunately, according to our waitress, their French baguette does indeed contain milk, but she recommended a couple salads as well as their baked eggs.
The baked eggs were well-presented and topped with a generous heaping of tomato sauce and basil. On the side came a couple pieces of French bread, even though the waitress had mentioned the bread had dairy in it. I will admit, I was curious to see if she was telling the truth, as French baguettes are traditionally dairy-free. Alas, I will reveal that the waitress was right—one piece of French bread in, and my throat was already slightly itchy. The eggs themselves were runny and warm, and went well with the soupy tomato sauce. A large serving—three eggs!—was perfect for sharing, and certainly a complete breakfast.
Café Gitane has a family-friendly atmosphere and there were many young children with their scooters and stuffed animals, mostly sleeping while their parents finished sharing gossip and catching up. The high ceilings kept the restaurant airy but not drafty, and the many eclectic decorative elements made great conversation pieces.
Café Gitane, sadly, does not have enough selection to contend as a regular brunch option for Brunch with Bearees, but they do have a full bar, classic cocktails, and a building full of history that may be more conducive to a night out in one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Once a meeting place for salty seadogs and the artistic elite, the Jane Hotel and Café Gitane now maintain a quaint and quiet atmosphere for reminiscing and rediscovery.