Morning 'Happy Hour' in the West Village At Doma

"Doma’s rolled oats are toasted, lightly sweetened and just cooked through, creating a dry oatmeal that’s more texturally akin to a softened granola."

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Envision a quintessential West Village café—we’re talking sitcom setting, Hollywood-sketched, laughably stereotyped West Village café—and you’ll get a good idea of Doma. On a funnily angled Perry Street corner, Doma looks like your painter friend’s cluttered studio: potted plants along the enormous picture windows, overstuffed bookshelves, low wooden tables and mismatched chairs. The artwork hanging on the walls (and propped against them) rotates frequently. Doma's denizens match their surroundings: artists, and “artists,” bent over sketchbooks; a trio of attractive Parisians chatting gaily in the corner; long-haired, long-skirted older women in animated arguments.

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20090528coffee.jpgAnd, of course, coffee. In this café-crazed neighborhood, with Joe Coffee, Jack’s Stir Brew, and the Roasting Plant (plus three Starbucks) within a two-block radius, Doma has plenty of competition. Any proper bohemian watering hole should brew a decent cup. So Doma is now serving Counter Culture Coffee, and introducing a morning “happy hour” on Monday through Thursday mornings—all coffee, tea, and espresso beverages half-price with food. A good deal, if the breakfast is worth eating.

And most of it is. My palacinka ($6), a Czech crepe, was tasty (what crepe, on some level, isn't?) and well composed, elegantly wrapped around a sweet, seedy raspberry jam. That said, the crepe itself was somewhat salty, and noticeably chewy, with crunchy edges and none of the bubble structure that makes crepes so ephemerally light. Better were some of the baked goods: a delicate zucchini-orange muffin and a hearty, raisin-studded bran ($2.25).

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The granola ($5, plus $1 with yogurt) was unremarkable—standard Nature Valley-esque toasted oats with standard, if pleasantly thick, plain yogurt. Fine, but hardly memorable.

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The house-made oatmeal ($4.50, plus $1 with berries)—another example of the "house-made" language trend—was outstanding, on the other hand. Doma’s rolled oats are toasted, lightly sweetened and just cooked through, creating a dry oatmeal that’s more texturally akin to a softened granola. Served with hot steamed milk on the side, the cereal becomes exactly as milky as you like it. And this is a dish I’d recommend with berries—though thawed from frozen, rather than fresh, the generous portion of blackberries bleed juice into the oatmeal, which, almost dry on its own, plumps right up.

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Best of all was the Babicka ($9), a delicate cream cheese-stuffed French toast that wasn’t anything near the sugar bomb one might expect. Triangles of crustless, butter-browned Pullman-style bread are feather-light and barely battered; the silky cream cheese filling, sparingly sweetened. While still a properly indulgent breakfast, the Babicka is a grown-up version of a dish that rarely displays sophistication.

Also available are standards like two organic eggs with Balthazar ciabatta ($6), and Murray’s bagels with cream cheese ($2.50) or bluefish pate. Any food order gets you half-off that Counter Culture cappuccino. And a window-side seat for the best people-watching in town.

Doma

17 Perry Street (at Seventh Avenue South), New York NY 10014 (map)
212-929-4339

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