From the board games in one corner to the giant, brightly hued chalk mural that decorates one wall to the "Effin' Good Sandwich" listed on the menu, the old Textile space at 611 West 22nd in the Heights is now nearly unrecognizable in its new, entirely laid-back incarnation as the newest Kraftsmen Cafe.
It's Scott Tycer's second Kraftsmen Cafe (the first still going strong next to The Black Lab in the Museum District) and his new direction after shutting the avant-garde Textile in June.
"This is my first time I have worked the front and back since Aries," said an exhausted Tycer via email last week.
And working the front he was when I stopped in for a quick soup and sandwich last Tuesday, firing the top of a creme brulee with a blowtorch at the front counter. I ordered the aforementioned Effin' Good Sandwich (forgoing my regular turky and Brie) with a cup of potato-leek soup and a cold can of Aranciata and sat back to wait for my order while I took in all the changes that have transformed the space.
Some of the furniture and decor have remained from Textile's days, namely the chocolate-colored banquettes and the gauzy, floor-to-ceiling drapes that delineate the entrance in the open space. But gone is the stuffy, oppressive feeling that sometimes marred the delicate, airy restaurant in times past. Instead, it's now a quintessential neighborhood cafe in that idiosyncratic Heights sense, all purposeful quirk and eccentricity that somehow never feels forced, just fun.
Outside is a small patio area with two umbrella'd tables, but on that drizzly Tuesday afternoon, everyone was sitting inside. Even a cold, wet day can be improved by cozy seating and floor-to-ceiling windows, especially when accompanied by a cup of cream-thickened potato-leek soup.
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I took my Effin' Good Sandwich and soup back to the office where my cubicle was a sad stand-in for the calm, cozy confines of Kraftsmen Cafe. The buttery croissant and tangy Dijon mustard of the sandwich more than made up for the change in scenery, however. Speaking of the flaky croissant, Tycer tells me they'll soon be stocking European-style pastries and bread -- made on site at Kraftsmen Bakery (which takes up a large portion of the same building) to go along with the coffee and breakfast menu served up each day starting at 7 a.m.
Kraftsmen is open daily until 3 p.m., unlike its counterpart on Montrose (which stays open until 6 p.m. most days), so keep that in mind if you're thinking of doing dinner there.