It’s a beautiful thing, when unlikely partners go great together. We’re thinking here of that holiest of matrimonies, pb&j—and not the high-heeled sneaker.
A shining example of the former, Ludlow’s latest nightlife addition has its cake and can eat it too. Tucked away behind Pianos and the Living Room‘s sidewalk traffic, the new Cake Shop is the most recent newcomer in a rash of hybrids that includes Fashion/Plate NYC, Turks & Frogs, and The Hanger. But unlike some of its more chi-chi brethren, Cake Shop won’t be serving up sake cocktails or $1,000 baubles. This low-key bar-record shop-café is actually more reminiscent of Carroll Garden’s beloved, shuttered Halcyon—minus the thumping drum ‘n’ bass.
If anything, here’s a venue that benefits from not shelling out for an interior decorator to add that overly slick, ultra-suede sheen to the place. Imagine an improved-upon, larger Welcome to the Johnson’s—as if your playah Uncle George let you in on his secret bachelor pad where he wooed the women, Penthouse 1970s-style. Plastic-covered couches last seen in Grandma’s living room make the scene, shoved up against wood-paneled and roller-rink striped walls.
The front entrance is devoted to a full espresso bar featuring croissants and scones delivered fresh every morning from Balthazar. A back room is blocked off and serves as a record shop, where LPs and 45s get organized under amusing titles like “Sports/Jesus” and “Pretty Covers.” After 5pm, the basement bar opens up, a blessedly dive-y den with painted black walls, furniture both built or collected, and a jukebox of handmade CD covers and road-less-traveled choices (haven’t seen that early Scritti Politti in a while).
Granted, without a full liquor license, the drinks of choice are $5 drafts (or bottled beer) and $5 glasses of wine—but who else on this street is offering key lime pie and Kinks records on the side, eh?