We all have our little addictions, that can be good or not that good. Among mine are, in no particular order, dark chocolate, sushi, wine and Instagram. Yes, I admit it: I am addicted to Instagram. It all started at the suggestion of the Dad Vivant (a very talented photographer, not saying this just because I am related to him). He told me I would find it fun and, boy, was he right. In a couple of weeks I was hooked up to it and documenting everything I found interesting in our daily lives. And of course, that included food.
Not only has Instagram led me to (wrongly) believe I can photograph food (it is a lot of work to get one of those really nice shots), it has also introduced me to a community of fellow parents and people who love food and enjoy sharing their creations and/or their finds (and whose lives and photos I secretly envy). We have gone to a couple of restaurants in Los Angeles, based on the recommendations of a fellow LA foodie instagrammer and have discovered new places in New York through interesting photos and likes of local instagrammers.
One of my recent Instagram discoveries is Bikinis, a tiny little Spanish joint all the way in Avenue C. Being born and raised in Spain, I do have this woody-allenesque relationship with Spanish restaurants in New York: I miss the food tremendously and I am always searching for new places, to always end up, I wouldn’t say disappointed, but not totally satisfied. Sometimes it’s the fact that the food doesn’t bring me back home but mostly it’s the (very Spanish) thought of “I could get this back home for half the price”.
On the authentic front, I asked some Barcelona friends about bikinis, the name they have for ham and cheese grilled sandwiches, which in the South (where I hail from) are called sandwich mixto. They nostalgically confirmed with me the existence of this name and I made it my mission to check the place out.
The opportunity showed itself this past Saturday, when La Petite Wasabi and I had a couple of hours to ourselves. Usually I am on my own on Saturday mornings, prized hours roaming by myself, weekly precious hours of solitude, as any mom could attest. This week I had a 2-year old as my date and yes, the weather was nice enough to spend those four hours in Bleeker Street or Minetta parks, but we both looked at each other and when she told me: “mama, eat!” I knew it was my opportunity to check this place out.
The walk from the West Village was nice but a bit longer than anticipated with my 2-year old stopping at every flower and practicing her jumping skills at any given moment. The last block on East 4 from Avenue B to C was not as commercial as the previous ones. But when we got to Bikinis, I knew the walk had been worth while. A cute little place with Spanish looking tiles and a bright blue fence on the front invites you in to get tapas and $5 brunch cocktails. There are also two stools outside, so you can have brunch and talk to your server through the window. The place is really tiny and I wouldn’t recommend coming in with a stroller (not even an umbrella one).
When you walk in, white brick walls with vintage posters of bikini-clad women, as it should be, welcome you along with a long pretty bar on your left. There are about 8 tables in the place and you can see the kitchen in the back, where they prepare the namesake dish and other tapas.
We decided to go for a bikini clásico, a much more fun name for a ham and cheese grilled sandwich and a serving of croquetas de pollo (chicken croquettes). The menu is pretty straight forward and they don’t have a kids menu, but who doesn’t like a grilled sandwich or croquetas? They don’t have high chairs either and I guess it’s not the place people usually bring little ones often, unless you live in the neighborhood, as it is relatively far from the subway.
The waitresses were both Spanish and pretty sweet with La Petite Wasabi, who was really excited about her orange juice and not that crazy about the croquetas, which I ended up eating with a spicy and pretty decent Bloody María. The croquetas tasted homemade and they came perfectly fried without being piping hot (as it is usually the case). The bikini clásico was a ham and cheese grilled sandwich on gluten free challah bread with a generous amount of both ham and gooey cheese, which my little one loved and devoured, leaving out the crust (à la Walter White). The mixed greens that came with it were OK. At $7.50, of course one could think that “I could get this back home for half the price”, but I still think it’s a pretty good deal as far as New York brunches go. And if you add to that a $5.00 choice of Mimosa, Bellini or Bloody Mary, it is definitely a deal closer for me.
The bathroom is in the back and you have to pass by the kitchen and through a really kitsch (in a good way) beaded curtain, that did remind me of little greasy spoons back home. Even though it doesn’t have a changing table, it’s pretty ample and clean.
To finish our meal I had a café bombón, another of those “back from home” concoctions of coffee (espresso) with condensed milk, but we missed dessert, which was graciously offered to us (flan!!!) and that we had to refuse because we were running out of time and because if we ate anymore, a bikini wouldn’t be what I would be wearing this summer.
Still, I think I will be back, probably with the girlfriends who miss “home”, as it does look like a fun (and affordable) place to go. And might even go back with the two little ones so they get to try some more dishes of mamá‘s childhood.
56 Avenue C
New York, NY 10009
Tuesday – Friday: 5:00pm – 12:00am
Saturday: 10:00am – 12:00am
Sunday: 10:00am – 11:00pm