>> Wednesday, July 16, 2008

106-03 Metropolitan Ave
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 261-2043

Theater Cafe, owned by the same guys who run the adjacent Cinemart Cinemas, evokes feelings of an Italian street-side cafe. It's only missing the Vespas. The amount of seating outside it huge, and yet it fills up in the evening. You can sit here for hours and not even notice time pass... and people do.

More than just a coffee shop, Theater Cafe has a bit of everything. In addition to specialty coffees and teas and desserts, they have salads, sandwiches, paninis, crepes, smoothies, pizza, wraps, and a cocktail menu. I think that this waters it down. There's just too much and I'll be blunt. I have yet to have any food here that is any better than mediocre. If it up to me, I'd put my energy into drinks and desserts, maybe salads too. I'd thin the menu considerably.

The other problem is the waitstaff. They're not bad, but not one time have I been here and seen more than one person working the tables. There may be two more staff by the cash register inside, but pity the poor girl running from table to table.

Still, I've only been here for the atmosphere. I came here with Gnome this past winter and we sat for hours. The inside has big cushy sofas and a fireplace and you could curl up here and not want to leave. And, in the winter anyway, that's really the whole point. In the summer, the point is sitting outside and letting yourself be calmed by cool breezes and the company of your friends.

This isn't an American coffee shop like Starbucks or Esparks Coffee, where you go with a laptop and study or blog about restaurants you've been to. Theater Cafe has no wifi access. This is the kind of cafe you go to and order an espresso or glass of wine, take a drag of your Parliament, grab a copy of the Times or some friends, and sit.

And tip the waitress well. She deserves it.


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