JP’s Food Adventures: Cup & Saucer is Still a Classic
I’m pretty sanguine when it comes to nostalgia. Lots of cool stuff has come and gone in fashion’s cycles. A rose-tinted recreation of yesteryear doesn’t hold a strong appeal to me. A living piece of the past is another matter entirely.
Take Cup and Saucer Luncheonette: there’s no gimmick, no re-envisioning of classic diner fare, no faux-50’s decor. It’s an old school luncheonette, dishing up exactly what you’d expect from a place where most of the food comes off a griddle or out of a deep fryer. You sit at a stool in front of a counter. Your meal arrives on heavy China made decades ago upstate. The staff wear white paper hats. But there’s not a whiff of kitsch; it’s just how things are done. Without a hint of self-consciousness.
It had been so long since I’d had a sausage, egg and cheese on a roll that I was surprised the price had risen to $3.50. I could probably cultivate a little nostalgia for the prices of previous decades. The sandwich required none whatsoever; it hasn’t changed a bit. That steadiness is what keeps a place like Cup and Saucer in business. You know exactly what you’re going to get when you walk in: a classic short order breakfast or lunch. Your order will be taken quickly, your food served with a smile, and your bill will be inexpensive. You come here to eat, not to comment on the food.
Those given to preciousness might call Cup and Saucer a “hidden gem”, but it is neither. It’s in plain sight, perhaps even standing out a bit, surrounded by so much Chinese signage on the corner of Canal and Eldridge. And there’s no attempt made to elevate the ordinary into something fine. Ordinary, done well, has been enough to keep them in business for forty years.
Cup & Saucer is located at 89 Canal.
JP Bowersock is a professional musician and music producer who has toured the world repeatedly, eating at top restaurants and hole-in-the-wall joints. He is a serious home cook with over two decades’ experience cooking for family, friends and fellow rock and rollers. Mr Bowersock keeps a toe in the wine business as well, consulting for the wine lists of several neighborhood establishments, including Clandestino, 35 Canal St. When not on tour or in the recording studio he’s scouring the neighborhood for frugal food finds.
The white wine that turned me around on whites (after years of being a “red wine guy“) was a Sancerre. These French expressions of the Sauvignon Blanc grape are dry, crisp and complex, with citrus fruit and sometimes even a hint of smoke. Unfortunately good examples are often expensive, so I rarely drink Sancerre. But less expensive wines of similar style and terrior can be found, and Henri Bourgeios’ Petit Bourgeois 2010 ($14), at Seward Park Liquors, is a great example. It’s crisp, with refreshing acidity balancing citrus fruit. Not a hint of sugar on the finish. It’s a more elegant choice than many of the almost cloying, higher-alcohol takes on this grape from California and New Zealand. Crisp is good. Elegant is good. And this “poor man’s Sancerre” is very good for the price.