Community Service


Community Food & Juice | 2893 Broadway (bet. 112th & 113th Sts.) | 212.665.2800 | www.communityrestaurant.com | | |

MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS REALLY HAS it going on! Which shouldn’t—and doesn’t—surprise me; I grew up in that neighborhood. And by “growing up”, I mean I lived on 124th and Broadway from birth until I was about 22 years old. I would visit my mother at Columbia University in my early youth while she was completing her general studies. My younger sister attended the Cathedral School (of St. John the Divine) for several years when I used to have a donut and a soda at Tom’s Diner (later made famous by Suzanne Vega and Seinfeld) waiting to pick her up after her last class to walk us home.

I learned how to drink heavily in early high school (when the drinking age was still 18) at the West End, enjoying the fact that it was the only place I hung at with my friends where I was the one who could quickly walk home. I spent much of my late teens/early 20s hanging with any number of Columbia friends, either hanging at out with the Beta House guys (especially after that storied football game against Princeton) or drinking champagne by night (and doing New York Times crossword puzzles by day) with my St A’s (St. Anthony Hall literary society) friends. And one of the great loves of my life, who I dated on and off for three and a half years, lived on 104th, so we would lunch at Ollie’s—one of the whole city’s first noodle shops—right on 116th, or share one of the generationally renowned head-sized pizza slices at Koronet off of 110th.

But all of that was over twenty years ago, and well before the “foodie” movement actually expanded way up into this neighborhood, which has seen the restaurant scene almost explode in just a small amount of time. After Ollie’s taught Columbia students that they didn’t need to subsist on pizza and Subway shops alone, a restaurant called Toast opened right across from the apartment that I grew up in, and had by then finally moved out off. Eventually, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que brought rib fanatics to a neighborhood they usually drive over on the elevated Henry Hudson Highway, Floridita educated students and their professors as to the joys of authentic Cuban/Dominican/Puerto Rican food. MH now boasts their own highly-regarded bistro (Max Soha), Italian (Pisticci), tony brunch spot (Kitchenette), exotic African (Massawa) and Mediterranean (Sezz Medi).

A neighborhhood that succeeded in avoiding housing a Burger King or McDonald’s, now showcases the Pat LaFrieda-meated Mel’s Burger Bar and popular nationally revered 5 Guys Burger & Fries. And even on top of sprouting a restaurant Scandinavian (Haakon’s Hall) and an actual biergarten (Bier International), finally completing the theoretical cycle is the socially responsible Community Food & Juice, putting modern twists and classic dishes using only locally-sourced and organic ingredients.

I’ve been waiting to try this spot for quite some time, and after having a client meeting in the 90s on the West Side, I figured it couldn’t have been a more convenient opportunity to try it out. Unfortunately, I was under the impression that that stopped lunch service at 3:30 p.m.—to prep for dinner—so after wasting 6 bucks on an unnecessary cab ride, I found myself at the contemporarily-designed joint, right at the sweet spot downtime between lunch and dinner.


Community Food & Juice

Community Food & Juice

Community Food & Juice


Ironically enough, my great interest in sampling Community’s menu was stirred by a breakfast item, a scrambled egg sandwich on a whole wheat biscuit with chicken-apple sausage, topped with Cabot cheddar, with a side of tomato jam and crispy carrot potato hash—all made from scratch in house.


Biscuit Sandwich | Community Food & Juice

Biscuit Sandwich | Community Food & Juice

Biscuit Sandwich | Community Food & Juice

Biscuit Sandwich | Community Food & Juice

Biscuit Sandwich | Community Food & Juice

Biscuit Sandwich | Community Food & Juice


I used to be a cynic of the whole “organic foods” movement. I thought most customers couldn’t tell the difference in the taste or quality of the food, and I found it laughable to be asked to pay more for food that was, “un-messed with.” But this is the way to eat food, folks, and it might very well be worth the extra money to wean our palates off of the other gunk that gets added to, pumped into, fed to, or mixed with our foods before we try to salvage it with seasonings and condiments.

These eggs did indeed taste better, a little richer and concentrated in flavor. The healthier biscuits, made even more aromatic by the wheat, still maintained the proper balance between heft and airiness. The Cabot cheddar, some of the best in its class, added subtle sharpness to the sandwich, and double the texture with it’s melted center and its slightly fried “skirt”. The coarse ground of the sausage highlights the chicken’s meaty charms and taste, with the sweetness and very slight acidity of the apple in the mix complimenting nicely.

Even the grated carrots kept their true earthiness, slight floral and sweet itself, as well as their bite, in a potato hash with impressively crispy edges. I added salt and pepper to my first few bites out of habit, but as I continued through it, realized that the taste of potato, although mellow, was present enough to more than appease my palate.

So enjoying my dish, was I, that I took more than my usual time enjoying. A large part of that as well was due to watching the people outside—students and teachers who in majority live here for 4 years at a time if not much longer. There are many families that have walked these streets for at least a generation. And there was a time when I could walk this strip of Broadway and bump into any number of people I knew, such as former high school mates to attending university, or friends who grew up on Clairmont, Tiemann Plaza, or La Salle, thoroughfares no one else in any other neighborhood of Manhattan have ever heard of.

This visit made me nostalgic, almost homesick. I realized how much I miss how the things I use to do in the neighborhood, and the people I use to do them with. Which is why I now have a greater respect for the “return to sanity” ideology of organic food, and the farmers and supporters who struggle to get us back to where we used to be, when food was grown, farmed, sold, and cooked for the pleasure of consumption, and not the business of it.

Community Food & Juice is definitely doing right by its local patrons, by making the food, at least this dish, tasty enough that you don’t have to knock them over the head with message; they’ll come back often and happily so according to the many internet review I read while checking the place out online. Morningside Heights is as lucky to have Community looking out for them now as I was having Morningside Heights looking after me way back when.


Community Food & Juice

Bun Apple Tea!

.kac.


Community Food & Juice on Urbanspoon


Community Food & Juice | 2893 Broadway (bet. 112th & 113th Sts.) | 212.665.2800 | www.communityrestaurant.com | | |



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