Last month, Manhattan Juice Bar & Cafe quietly opened its doors on Glenridge Avenue in Montclair. In just under a month it has already started to gain some talk around town for serving fresh, reasonably priced juices, great coffee and pastries, healthy and freshly made salads, panini and wraps, and, what I discovered today—really good ice cream.
I discovered the new juice bar and cafe last weekend when we hosted my oldest daughter’s 9th birthday party at StudioKids Art. A friend ran across the street to get coffee and brought me back a cup of a nice, strong brewed cup of regular Joe. I knew I had to stop in Manhattan Juice Bar & Café, and that’s what I did today.
Housed in the spot that held Cha-Ma-Gu-Dao, the tea shop which closed a couple of years ago, Manhattan Juice Bar & Café is a large space, narrow but long, decorated in red an black, with some black chairs grouped for lounging and enjoying a drink and some tables for eating. A large “Manhattan skyline at night” mural decorates one wall and other NYC photos are hanging throughout. It’s nice, but like Cha-Ma-Gu-Dao, the space tends to feel a bit bare and empty.
The coffee, however, made up for what is lacking in decor. I ordered a grande caramel latte, one of my favorite specialty coffees, and was very pleased. It had strong espresso, great foamy milk and a caramel sauce that added just the right amount of sweetness. Manhattan Juice Bar & Café uses its own special blend of “Manhattan” coffee, made locally. The manager said they prided themselves on offering local goods to support small businesses. Other local offering are the pastries and breads by Calandra’s Bakery and homemade ice cream made by Guernsey Crest Ice Cream Company in Paterson.
The manager, a very nice man who is also the brother of owner Khalid Soufanati, was so excited to offer Guernsey Crest ice cream at the cafe, he convinced me to try out a few flavors. Truth is, I’ll never need convincing to try out ice cream, although I’m pretty picky when it comes to the creamy treat. I started out with my favorite flavor, coffee, and immediately was taken with the thick, density of the ice cream, followed but the just right flavor of coffee. Next was the chocolate, which had a chewy fudge-like consistency and made me very happy. Pistachio was another hit, nice crunch and flavor, but I was most impressed by the vanilla. I find that the true test of a good ice cream lies in how the simplest flavor tastes. Vanilla can be bland, but this vanilla passed the test. The manager said that Guernsey Crest ice cream had a very high butterfat percentage almost 16%, which explained the richness. Most ice creams’ butterfat percentage ranges from 10% – 20%, so this is on the high end.
For those looking for a healthier alternative, there’s a small section of pre-packed food, such as salads and wraps, for grab n’ go, which are made fresh throughout the day.
After my coffee and ice cream testing, I crossed over to get a haircut at Parlor Hair Studio and found out that the ladies there are big fans of Manhattan Juice Bar & Café. My stylist Tracy couldn’t stop raving about the fresh juice, which she buys daily and says is very affordable She raved that the wheat grass is the best. I’ll take her word on that—I’m more of an ice cream girl. More up my alley, she said the Roast Beef sandwich spread with a Tzatziki sauce is awesome and the salads are some of the best around.
I’ll definitely be going back to Manhattan Juice Bar & Café to try the food—and get myself a big double scoop of ice cream.
On January 18, Manhattan Juice Bar & Café will hold a live music night from 6 pm – 10 pm featuring Jerry Tolve and Terry Boch, with pans to hold monthly events of music, comedy and poetry.