Nolita's new Jack's Wife Freda exemplifies the best of New York café culture.
Brought to you by Dean and Maya Jankelowitz, a couple who met cute while smoking on the fire escape at Balthazar, Jack's Wife Freda is a waystation designed to effortlessly satisfy most anyone at any time of day.
Drop in beginning at 8 a.m. to nip on a Stumptown Hair Bender latte ($3.50) and a curled chocolate babka "rose" ($4) from Zucker Bakery--all enjoyed by the sunlight streaming through the front doors.
Or, for a more substantive meal, come until midnight to sample Dean's distinctive South African dishes. Our favorite: Gizzards and liver ($9) braised in spicy Peri Peri chile sauce, then lightly fried and stewed into giblet magnificence.
There are tamer but similarly elemental eats, too. A whole roasted garlic head ($4) is served on wax paper with crostini and Gruyère, and the burger ($15), a brisket blend topped with roasted tomato, a tussle of fried onions and a Martin's potato bun, was so good there was no reason to reach for ketchup.
With unassumingly beautiful surroundings, servers to match and food this deliciously multipurpose, Jack's Wife Freda will be seeing a lot of us.
Jack's Wife Freda, 224 Lafayette St. (between Spring and Kenmare sts.); 212-510-8550 or jackswifefreda.com