1.7.10 Ace Cadet

Snowtea 790 xxx
photo by george billard
At this very moment, my location is the polar opposite of the one in this photo where I'm sipping tea on a break from snowshoeing. Right now, I am having a delicious mocha that was meticulously crafted for me by one of the hot, pork-pie-hat-and-mustachio-sporting coffee-barkeeps at the Stumptown in the Ace Hotel on 29th and Broadway. The Ace is among the new hotels favored by the tragically hip (along with the downtown Standard and the Jane). It also houses The Breslin, a gastropub of sorts from the Spotted Pig crew (onion soup with bone marrow, various stews and concoctions from both ends of the pig). Upstairs on the 6th floor, our spacious room looks across 29th Street almost into the window of a loft I lived in during the summer of 1986. It has a turntable we actually know how to use (and some pretty lame records), and a great leather couch strewn with a black sheepskin. Pretty homey. The lobby is riddled with thirtysomethings in knitted caps hunched over their Kindles and Macs, and bellying up to the bar to order the requisite bourbon cocktails. I bought a bottle of Bookers for the room because, frankly, well, never mind... I'm leaning up against the gleaming brass counter in Stumptown, swaddled in my Rick Owens wrap sweater, sipping my mocha, hunched over my own Mac. Hey, maybe I do belong.
To be perfectly honest, the greatest thing about this hotel (aside from the bathtub in our room, the jumbo bag of Utz potato chips in the well-stocked mini bar, and the Le Labo candles for sale in the lobby) is its proximity to Kalustyan's, one-stop shopping for spices, nuts and all manner of condiments. I was there within an hour of checking in. A couple of hundred dollars later, I am pondering taking my business next door to Spices of India in the future. Maybe there they can even offer a "Thank you" after taking my money. They are so dour in Kalustyan's, but they do carry everything (except Maldive fish, a rather esoteric type of dried tuna used in Sri Lankan cooking that I needed and that the haughty little Indian guy behind the counter, who was being interviewed by some food nerd, told me they would have soon). Anyway, I've stocked up on all manner of Indian spices and flours and beans, so we can look forward to some delectable curries in the weeks to come. I also want to experiment with some gluten-free flatbreads for G, using besan (chickpea), millet and rice flours. More on the Ace later. The "valet"—in quotes because of how casual the service is here (and thus the very reasonable prices, I assume)—told us the grilled cheese sandwich from room service (straight from The Breslin's kitchen) is "the best one you'll ever eat." He probably doesn't realize that I've been to Harry's Bar in Venice. G will be saving his gluten pecadilloes for tomorrow night's pizza, but I may not be able to resist. I'm also dying to get to Ma Pêche, the latest notch in David Chang's bedpost, but it may have to wait until next time. There are only so many meals in a day...


Well, here I thought I'd found the best hotel in NYC, the Leo House (24th & 9th,) and I have to admit not being a gourmand I can safely say the hotel's breakfasts are absolutely bland. I'll have to try the Ace next time just to discover the next-door shops you so deliciously describe. But what would a non-cook do with Indian spices??? Love your take on life.
Vivian on January 8, 2010 at 7:35 am —
Love that photo of you. I have to boast that Portland is the hometown of Stumptown and Seattle, the Ace. We have one in P town now as well. As good as Stumptown is, it's been eclipsed by Ristretto Roasters. Their single origin Americano is a near mystical experience in flavor. http://ristrettoroasters.com/ Am enjoying your posts.
Suzinn on January 11, 2010 at 8:48 am —
Thanks, Lee! I know Portland is a mecca for food-lovers. I'll have to make it out that way for a visit...
laura on January 11, 2010 at 1:42 pm —