Golda is Mattress-Stuy Brooklyn’s all-day espresso store
All-day dining, like a pancake on a pan, hit a landing in 2017 with one gentle blow that felt right – downright cozy – in the middle of an otherwise uncomplicated year. High-end chefs with dinner service loosened their coats and found that the hours of lunch and breakfast fitted nicely as cafes – suppliers of the sunrise – crept into the night.
This is where Golda, a colorful new eatery in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, comes into focus as an all-day dining cafe.
Danny Nusbaum, Golda’s owner, is humble when he refers to his roots in the “bagel business,” a son of the long-standing Pick-a-Bagel family in NYC. He broke out on his own and most connected to the specialty coffee wave in town, but found that all-day dining restaurants with great coffee were in short supply.
“In most restaurants, the food is really tasty and the drinks program is great, but the coffee is missing,” and vice versa, says Nusbaum. “I wanted to combine everything with one another – food and drinks that are cooked and ingredient-driven.” He made this possible a few years ago, just one subway stop away at Tilda All Day, which had an iconic following for its brunch menu until it unexpectedly closed due to a dispute between Nusbaum and his business partner.
Golda is “healthy”, New American and, borrowed from his personal heritage, a bit Middle Eastern (his name is actually Nusbaum’s grandmother). The sun-drenched corner acts like a warm, cozy café in the morning, but in the kitchen stunning plates like spinach and purple yam moussaka, and eggplant people decorated with saffron yogurt and Jerusalem artichoke are tossed out. Around noon you will be wondering why we usually keep such stunning displays for the night.
It helps that Golda’s room is like nectar for Instagram and looks sunny even when it rains. The designers at The MP Shift, based in NYC, have given the 750 square meter café an atmosphere from the 1960s. They nodded to retro lunch and updated the blueprint with minimalist lines. Blonde wood surfaces keep the look bright with a curvilinear bar. Sky blue walls compliment slick concrete floors, and paint-blocked walls behind the counter match a strip of Mediterranean-inspired tile that moves at the base of the bar to make the floors crackle. Behind these colorful accents is the quick kitchen under the direction of chef Ryan Whyte, whose references include Craftbar and Public.
Photo by Ben Nusbaum
Whyte’s coating is a star. Beet tahini, poured on white ceramic, is like a pool of fuchsia color stacked with roasted cauliflower and peels of apricot and reggiano. The season brings a flavorful Turkish tomato soup that is as light as the beet tahini but scrawled with a herb yogurt topping and a piece of turmeric chia seeds. The soup arrives with two seriously long sourdough crusts that hang high above the plate and feel like a kettle when dipped in. Order the ash-hardened farmer’s cheese, which ends up with a piece of honeycomb. Order a mustard seed dish and trust the tiny yellow balls to pop and brush over roasted vegetables.
Here what looks good feels good.
As for espresso, Nusbaum trained in places like the Brooklyn Roasting Company, Joe Coffee, and Stumptown to get it just right. “I took courses on coffee ergonomics and went to Costa Rica to check out the farms out there. I went all in [on] the coffee side of things, ”says Nusbaum. He later worked on Greenpoints Propellor Coffee (RIP), which introduced him to Parlor Coffee. “I knew immediately that I wanted to join the Parlor people because they know very well who they want to work with,” explains Nusbaum.
And Parlor Coffee flows well and daily in Golda’s striped stoneware (each mug is thrown in shades by Brooklyn’s quirky Calyer Ceramics that echo the cafe’s earthy motif), while Nusbaum is now putting gastroasters in the spotlight every three months with two Portland-based roasters from opposite coasts (Oregon’s Heart Coffee Roasters and Maine’s Tandem Coffee Roasters).
Nusbaum equipped his coffee bar with a La Marzocco Linea PB espresso machine with built-in scales. Melbourne’s Specht Design has given the machine a white body, cladding made of American oak and brass-colored cup rails – it sits nicely. There is a Nuova Simonelli Mythos One for grinding espresso beans, a Mahlkönig EK43 for coffee beans and a traditional bamboo whisk for matcha.
The espresso menu is sturdy, listing the usual options along with a long black and a flat white. Golda wasn’t too stiff to pick up an occasional gimmick and began dabbling in charcoal grids, while a trick adopted by Tilda All Day results in a smooth, not-too-sweet cappuccino made from “biscuit” milk.
And while it all starts with coffee, Golda is planning a strong ending: in April and once Golda has acquired a liquor license, it stays open during dinner, keeping its shape, but switching to a proper restaurant with refined table service at night.
There may have been a time when dinner in a coffee shop was like drinking wine from a coffee mug, but we eat and drink in a world where little is asked of labels – Golda can be both.
Keith Flanagan is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and photographer who works for Condé Nast Traveler, Tasting Table, USA Today, Paste Magazine, The Robb Report, and others, among others. Read more about Keith Flanagan on Sprudge.
19th March 2018