Kinski, a wee Czech-Austrian coffee shop that opened last week on Rivington Street, bears all the hallmarks of its caffeine-pushing Lower East Side counterparts. The brainchild of a visual artist named Zipora Fried, it’s got spare decor, a hand-lettered menu, and a desserts display that’s more still life than sweet life. Among its offerings are an open-faced cranberry nut bread sandwich with goat cheese, dried fruit, and greens, and the intriguingly named Hot Nutella Drink.
Though the Nutella Drink’s name conjured hedonistic visions of a steaming cup of molten hazelnut spread, mixed with just enough milk to achieve barely liquid form, it turned out to be very thin and a bit wan in flavor — though its $3.75 price tag was certainly robust enough.
The sandwich, which cost $6, was fine — the honey mustard and sauerkraut that accompanied it imparted pleasant warmth and snap — but more resembled a salad deposited on a couple of anemic pieces of bread. On top of the concoction sat six raisins and half a dried fig, clustered together like wallflowers at a junior high school dance.
Again, this was not a bad sandwich — the bread was decent, the goat cheese creamy and mild, the greens fresh. But given that Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop sits across the street, serving lumberjack portions at similar prices, and a few blocks south, Cafe Katja‘s open-faced liptauer sandwich also costs $6 but boasts far more lavish endowments, Kinski may need to consider tinkering with its game strategy a bit. Judging by the decrease in prices — when its menu was posted on Grub Street last week, the sandwich was $7.50 — it already has, but its food is still crying out for more substance. You don’t name a coffee shop after Klaus Kinski unless you’re willing to haul that boat all the way over the mountain.
128 Rivington Street near Norfolk Street