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Blank Slate Coffee + Kitchen NoMad

Opening Hours
Today: 7:30am–5pm
Tues:
7:30am–5pm
Wed:
7:30am–5pm
Thurs:
7:30am–5pm
Fri:
7:30am–5pm
Sat:
8am–5pm
Sun:
8am–5pm
Location
121 Madison Avenue, #5
Blank Slate 1 Cafes Coffee Shops Murray Hill Nomad Rose Hill

“We wanted to be that diamond in the rough,” explained Ashley, the co-owner of Blank Slate. When Ashley and Zach, spouses and co-owners, were searching for a location for their restaurant, they wanted to find a neighborhood with a large crowd but not a lot of quality spots to eat. Blank Slate is successfully that hidden gem located in NoMad, one of Manhattan’s up and coming neighborhoods. Blank Slate attracts a crowd full of young, creative professionals who are quickly changing the area.

Ashley and Zach established Blank Slate, which opened in November of 2015, in an effort to create the first coffee-shop-restaurant hybrid in New York City. Ashley explains that they were tired of going to places that provided quality coffee but low quality food. She wanted a place that offered superb grab-n-go coffee as well as more formal dining where friends could meet for a long meal.

Ashley and Zach’s vision has been realized. Blank Slate serves killer coffee as well as an impressive assortment of salads, sandwiches and even gourmet desserts. Their coffee is proudly served from farm to cup in close to 20 days. They have a sign at the cash register indicating the green date and roast date of the coffee being served that day. My intern, Emily, hesitantly tried their brussels sprout Caesar salad and only had positive things to say about it, even though she usually does not enjoy Brussels sprouts. Blank Slate also has a small but wonderfully curated market located inside the restaurant, which offers primarily locally sourced products such as cookie dough, yoghurts, pickles and a host of beverages.

In addition to serving excellent coffee and food, Blank Slate has a fun, creative atmosphere. Ashley and Zach chose Blank Slate’s name because they wanted to convey the idea that people can make or create everything here. While customers wait in line for coffee, for example, there are etch-a-sketches on which to play. They even have Instagram competitions that reward one talented etch-a-sketcher with a free meal. Ashley hopes that Blank Slate can be a space for people to create. She explained that the etch-a-sketch sends a message: the “possibility of everything."

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Dover Street Market New York

Dover Street Market is a seven level hodgepodge of runway-ready designer looks laid out like a modern art gallery. On the ground floor is a fun café, Rose Bakery, with an assortment of light eats like toast and eggs, market salads, and sweet scones, as well as a comprehensive listings of cold drinks, teas, coffees, and wines. Shoppers and art-enthusiasts alike can effectively spend their entire day here. As a fellow Sideways member and I explored the market with from head to toe, we could not help oohing and aahing, pointing at curiosities for the other to see, and interacting tangibly with some pieces. On the seventh floor, we tried on almost every pair of the funky glasses displayed. On the sixth, we were met with whimsical creations, all somehow embodying the phrase “we make noise not clothes” that filled a corner in bold, lit-up letters. One of these, a tee-shirt with a picture of an apple, was captioned “pepper. ” A large pole (an infrastructure found on each floor) was collaged with miscellaneous beer cans, shower items, and holiday-specific ornaments. The walls of the fifth floor were decorated with cooking utensils, and mannequins in motion sported looks that combined the aesthetics of circuses and lawyers. Probably the smallest floor, the fourth featured architectural garments fashioned from hard leather and light lace. At the end of the floor, a water park themed staircase, equipped with a tunnel, beach ball and sand structures, slid us downstairs to splash into the pattern-filled third floor. On the second, we were met by statement sneakers and more fun glasses. Back on the first floor, we decided to linger a bit longer, checking out the Bo & Play headphones that were set against a white wall surrounded by neutral shapes in all dimensions, each bringing the accessory more focus. We flirted with the shiny pieces of jewelry on the other side of the floor, wanting to bring each ring, bracelet and necklace home. Collectively, our side street exploration of Dover Street Market was filled with a beautiful assortment of artistic garments and accessories, eye-catching artwork and infrastructure, and a great deal of smiling.

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Take 31

Nestled among the charming area that is Korea Town, is an eatery with a dual-personality. By day, the business exists as Cup & Cup, an artsy cafe that serves affordable fusion lunch dishes, artistically inserted into giant teacups, and smooth, rich coffee. At night, the same area morphs into Take 31, a dimly lit lounge area, with live music, succulent dinner dishes and a cool, hip vibe. The menu is made of classic Korean dishes with a twist. The dishes are inspired by Japanese, Italian and Mexican cuisine and cater to vegetarians, meat-lovers and those in between. South Korean owner, Kihyun Lee, studied fashion design at the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in NYC, and merged his love of authentic Asian food and passion for modern art into each dish. He revived this space in 2011 with the help of his friends. On our afternoon visit, we tried their classic bowl artfully filled with mushrooms, minced beef, rice, chopped egg and carrotsCup & Cup, its daytime persona, was introduced a year and a half after opening Take31. The airy rooms feel clean, with minimal lines. The shelves along the walls are carefully decorated with quirky, vintage memorabilia, but do not feel cluttered. A table with an ice-water cooler is stationed in the middle, for easy access. One statement wall is entirely dedicated to a blueprint of the space, delicately and organically painted by the architects at work. While much of the design is fresh, brightly colored Lego pieces are playfully juxtaposed throughout. Some of those Lego pieces are even inserted within the wall's low-hanging light fixtures and plastered near the giant window at the entrance. During the day, Cup & Cup offers patrons with a few hours dedicated to "Study Time, " as business professionals and students quietly sip green tea lattes and munch on noodles, while using the Wi-Fi connection. At night, locals flock in when the sun goes down, as dinner, drinks and music serves a different, yet equally, artsy crowd.

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In the race among Manhattan restaurants to attract customers, simplicity is sometimes lost. But not so in the Mason Jar, a restaurant and bar that keeps it old school with good vibes and great tastes. The southern, barbecue-heavy menu and extensive list of craft beers and bourbons speak for themselves, complete with suggested pairings. Each month, a new craft beer is featured in an effort to support small breweries. If these beers attract a following, they are added to the full-time roster. While visiting with some Sideways members, I had a lively conversation with chef about the different styles of barbecue - our North Carolinian team member swears by vinegar sauce and appreciated Mason Jar’s variety. The food is fresh and not overdone, but at the same time the Chef  “puts love into it. ” The high quality meat is treated seriously - specialty ribs are coated with a dry rub, smoked using apple and hickory wood, braised, and mopped with a tomato-based Kansas City-style sauce. Then grilled. The brisket and boneless pork butts are given no less attention. Replete with wood, American Flags, and comfortable seating, Mason Jar also achieves a homey feel to match its Southern style. Many of the University of South Carolina alumni  in Manhattan choose this spot as the venue to catch the Cocks football games, and Villanova basketball fans flock here for their games, as well. With the hearty food, good beers, and down-home feel, it is easy to understand why. To put it plainly and simply, Mason Jar was a good find.

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