Welcome to another interview in the New York on My Mind series, ‘My New York’. This week, East Village resident and owner of the West Village superfood cafe, Nourish Kitchen + Table, Marissa Lippert, shows us to a secret nature reserve in Brooklyn and reveals the perfect tourist-free spot for brunch.
What neighbourhood do you live in and why?
I live in the East Village and I really love that it’s still a little gritty and real. Although it’s come along way since I first moved to the city 15 years ago, it still has a bit of edge. There’s a good mix of higher-end boutiques and restaurants serving some of the best food in New York, as well as a community of people who have been there for decades.
What’s your favourite time of year in the city?
Oh, that’s a tough one! New York has something to offer all year round. But for me I think it’s got to be Fall – September and October. It’s a nice time in the city because people are back from the holidays, the leaves are turning and everything looks beautiful. Everyone seems in a good mood in the Fall; and excited for a new season.
Best brunch spot?
There are a couple of places I go to time and again. An old-school haunt of mine is the Clinton Street Baking Co & Restaurant. It does the most amazing eggs and incredible pancakes and I’ve been going there for years with friends. I also love Café Gitane (below) – another place I’ve been going to for years with friends which is a great setting for a chilled out, casual brunch.
I love finding a new hole-in-the-wall restaurant or boutique. There’s always something new to discover around every corner in New York City. For years, I used to walk past this little tiny spice shop in my neighbourhood. Occasionally I would poke my head in, but it was mostly closed when I walked past. I finally managed to get to know it a little better, build up a relationship with the owners. Now, it’s where Nourish Kitchen + Table gets all is spices. That’s definitely been one of my best discoveries.
Gosh, I rarely get time for shopping! But when I do, I head to Love Adorned. It’s a little shop selling jewellery and homewares and has some great stuff. I like smaller boutiques. Albertine in West Village is the place I go to when I need a really nice unique dress.
What building would you most love to live in?
The city is full of inspiring buildings, but at the moment, I’d have to say a block in Avenue B close to where I live now. It’s an old brick building overlooking Tompkins Square Park that used to be a synagogue which has been turned into apartments, and it looks awesome.
What’s the city’s most overlooked site?
There’s a nature walk in Green Point, Brooklyn, which is a little bit odd and ironic as it’s directly opposite a sewage plant! It’s called the Newtown Creek Nature Walk and it’s actually beautiful and really quiet. As you walk along the path, there are signs that tell the story of the Newtown Creek Treatment Plant, as well as the history of New York. It’s a bizarre place, but lovely at the same time and very remote. I’d never heard of it until a friend took me there. There’s also a great greenhouse area along the East River which I run past most mornings which looks so pretty; and The Cloisters museum which can only be found in the tourist guides if you dig really deep, so it’s often overlooked. Riverside Park… there are too many!
Best place for people watching?
Really, just walking the streets of New York offers so much chance for people watching. Whether you’re in the West Village, Chelsea, the Lower East Side or Soho… you can walk along any street, around any block and find something interesting going on to look at.
I can’t think of just one, but I adore all of the little community gardens and plaques noting bits of history tucked into discreet spots around the city. Then there’s Abraço Espresso and Bakery, a teeny tiny coffee spot in my neighborhood, I mean teeny, but they’ve got some of the best coffee and pastries around – aside from at Nourish Kitchen + Table (below) of course! – as well as an awesome, super-friendly vibe.
What would you do as Mayor?
I’d probably work to figure out a way of overhauling the public school breakfast and lunch programmes and improving eating habits. There have been plenty initiatives in the past, but I still think more needs to change.
How would you spend a spare afternoon?
I’d go for a run on the East River, the West Side Highway or even Central Park. Then I’d maybe just try to take some time to walk around, window shop, meet a friend for lunch. Mainly, I’d slow down and enjoy being in my neighbourhood.
Best thing a taxi driver has said to you?
I can’t remember a specific conversation, but it’s always good when you get a taxi driver who talks to you politely and gives you a compliment, and I like it when you end up talking about a cultural side to the city or a great gallery.
What inspires you about New York City?
It’s got to be its energy, feeling of creativity and history. It’s not an easy city to live in – it’s loud, busy, fast-paced, and I often feel that I need to escape – but there’s always something addictive about it that draws me straight back in again!
Craziest thing about living in the city?
How hard it can be sometimes just in terms of trying to get the small things done; like your laundry when you live on, say, the 37th floor! Or you want to rent an apartment; it can just be a confusing and time-consuming experience! Just all the little things you have to put up with that make it challenging, but at the same time make it like no where else!
A word of advice for tourists…
Try to do other things that aren’t in the tourist guide book. Obviously see the Empire State Building, have a quick look at Times Square and walk around Central Park, but really try to find time to take your time exploring the different neighbourhoods. Work out why they’re different; really get into them. No one really does that enough – visitors and locals alike – and it gives a really good idea of what the city is like.
Thanks for talking to me, Marissa.
Find Nourish Kitchen + Table at 95 Greenwich Avenue, between Bank and West 12th Street.