Lunch for One: El Beit
Coffee brings the crowds, but it's the soups and sandwiches that earn my loyalty at El Beit in Williamsburg. The menu changes frequently, but there are often repeats and many steady items. There's one soup offered each day; in the colder months, expect to dive into a bowls of Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash, or, my personal favorite, the Spiced Lentil ($6), with hints of chili and cumin. (An extra shake of salt does wonders.) Warm, irregular seasoned croutons and sprinkles of chives finish it off. But soup alone isn't quite a complete meal at El Beit.
To round out the meal, consider the Grilled Cheese ($6.50). Aged white cheddar and ricotta, both from the nearby Bedford Cheese Shop, meet meaty slices of thyme-roasted tomatoes between oat and sesame bread. Both sides buttered and grilled to a light crunch. There's a simply tossed salad on the side, bitter greens with whole grain mustard vinaigrette to lighten the meal.
Another mainstay sandwich is the Roasted Vegetable ($7), which is more interesting that the name would have you believe. It's built on a base of toasted sourdough, the bottom slice smeared with housemade pesto. More of those thyme-roasted tomatoes (which made an appearance in the grilled cheese) layered on top, then rosemary roasted beets, fresh spinach, and arugula. A drizzle of goat crema and parmesan crisps for a little cheesy crunch. Truly more than the sum of its parts, and a rather refreshing and substantial sandwich. No salad comes with this sandwich, you've got enough greens inside.
For a small coffee shop, the menu covers a wide range of items. I've spotted homemade bacon-wrapped pork pate at a neighboring table, bircher swiss muesli on another—but it was the steamy baked oatmeal with walnuts, cranberries, and maple syrup on a Monday morning that has me counting down the days until I next return.
158 Bedford Avenue, New York, NY 11211 (map)
About the author: Originally from Honolulu, Kathy YL Chan writes A Passion For Food, where she chronicles her eats and travels adventures between Hawai'i, New York and beyond. She firmly believes that there is always room for dessert.