Life Cafe Blog

Archive for October 2009

Life Cafe 983 – Dinner Specials 10/29-11/4


over a bed of mesclun with a house made
southwestern dipping sauce


in a mushroom and red wine sauce served with
garlic mashed potatoes and spinach

with sweet potato hash and an asparagus,
spinach and white bean salad

stuffed with spinach, roasted beets, peppers,
carrots and tofu, served with brown rice

Two brats cooked in beer served with sauerkraut,
Dijon mustard, potatoes and carrots

Come watch the games @ Life Café
Drink Specials, Friendly Food, Delicious Staff

MENU RIDDLE ANSWER Life Cafe East Village

The answer to last week’s Menu Riddle at the East Village Life Cafe is . . . ROCKS! As in bar drinks “on the rocks.” It was on display until Monday, October 26.

If you got the answer right and left us your email address (that’s readable), you’ll win a free bottle of champagne! We’ll notify you via email. Then call or email us back and let us know when you’ll be in to enjoy it.

John’s pastel drawings depict as a riddle an item from one of our menus — the All Day, Brunch, Coffee Drinks, Dessert, any of our menus. And it could be a word, a section heading, anything! Often than not it’s one of our menu items. If you study each of them enough and look for clues in his drawings, the answer is bound to pop out to you.

Thanks for playing and good luck with the next one. (John posts new ones on Fridays, unless he’s late and puts one up on a Sunday, which has been known to happen from time to time.)

BEER SPEAK @ Life Cafe 983

Ultimate beer tasting…
by Andy, Bar Manager in Brooklyn

It took about 35 minutes of picking and choosing at Bierkraft + $154 and we had 35 of the world’s best beers ranging from Scheinder’s Aventius Wiezen Eisbock – Dogfish Head’s Raison de Extra (alcohol levels ranging between 6.7% and 28%!!! – average out at about 12%). This was definitely one of the best varieties of beer I have consumed in a sitting. Luckily, I happen to share it with my brother and step-father. We sat in my living room, each one of us had a chalice that we would rinse in between the next sample (at first anyway). We would take turns picking the next beer. It seemed a trend that I would go for Belgians, typically quads, and my family was going toward IPAs with west coast hop profiles. This got me thinking about my next pick.

The best match I could come up with was Houblon Chouffe, a Belgian triple abbey/double IPA blend. When I say this, it is actually NOT two different beers brewed separately and blended together. It is a meld of styles generally so far apart from each other that few would dare such a thing, but not La Chouffe. Being experts at brewing triple abbeys, they wanted to do something a little more challenging. Their take on this unique endeavor, was pure brilliance. In the United States and England, brewers tend to add hops early in the boil if not before the malt is even added, adding a stronger “bittering” effect to the beer. La Chouffe on the other hand, wanted all of the beautiful floral and pine essences that hops has to offer without making the beer overly bitter and acidic. Weighing in at 9% ABV, Houblon Chouffe hit the nail right on the head. Perfectly smooth body of a Belgian triple with a nice balance of hop, not turning the triple into the typical American double IPA. Highly recommended because hey, we were all happy!

Now available @ Life Cafe 983

Life Cafe 983 Dinner Specials 10/23 – 10/28


in a basil fra diablo sauce
served with garlic bread


in a demi sauce served with
garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus

in a black pepper, ginger and butter sauce
with mixed vegetables and brown rice

with a mushroom gravy,
roasted potatoes and French beans

Two brats cooked in beer served with sauerkraut,
Dijon mustard, potatoes and carrots

Bratwurst on a baguette with sauerkraut,
Dijon mustard and of course
one ice cold bottle of Sam Adams Oktoberfest

ME and my BUNS: How do You Like Yours?

Retro Burger(and a chance to win below!!)

by John Sunderland ©
Illustration “Retro Burger” is a classic drawing from John’s weekly Riddle Raffle at Life 983

I order a Life Café Burger about once a week. To me as an older Yorkshireman from England, the American Burger is an international icon and the Life Café version is an excellent example.

The nearest thing we came to real burgers in the early sixties in England was watching Wimpy, the ever-famished character on the Popeye cartoons who suffered from perpetual burger lust, suck down another one, promising to re-pay the money he’d just hustled by Tuesday or Thursday. We kids, of course, knew he really meant never. Wimpy could eat his own weight in burgers during the course of a cartoon and always got away Scott free.

“Wimpy” was also the name of a burger cafe in our northern town. A visit was something of a treat. It wasn’t overly styled as an American version, though they did do milkshakes and Coke and called chips “fries.” And they had revolving pedestal seats just like in the films. In fact, apart from cartoons, as a kid I had no real idea that the “Burger” was an American institution destined to take over the world!

The best thing about Wimpy’s though wasn’t their burgers; it was their bright colored ketchup and mustard dispensers which sat plump and heavy on the yellow Formica tables. It was risky but if you were clever, you could squeeze the ketchup bottle hard enough to make it blow little red bubbles (ketchup farts really); but get it wrong and you could erupt ketchup all over your mum’s new coat

Why I’m writing this is because as I sat at the bar of Life Café 983 last night I was mesmerized by a chap next to me by the name of Brent Herrig. He’d ordered the Life Burger and was very seriously and studiously, almost scientifically, applying a thick coating of ketchup to the under-side of the top half of the bun. Then carefully and skillfully as he held the bun in mid air he moved it in a rotational way watching closely as the thick red wave moved around glutinously within its circumference. I’d never seen anyone do that before; seems Brent had a personal thing going on, his little ritual before munching it down. I asked him how the burger was and he said the Life Café Bushwick burgers (he hasn’t been to the East Village yet) was in his top three best burgers for New York.

All you could do with a Wimpy’s burger in 1962 was see how far you could get the melted cheese to stretch in thin rubbery threads as you held the top of the bun aloft, like some hovering UFO. I could get it to stretch about a foot before the cheese cooled and went solid.

Now that I’m older and more aesthetically sensitive, I sit at the bar and see just how tall and elegant I can make my burger by piling up everything (except fries) onto the meat patty with the bun on top. I imagine it’s a design for a new building, or the leaning tower of tomato and onions. Then I sit back and marvel at my unique creation, just before it falls over.



How do you like to dress your Life Burger? Share your version in our Comments Section on the Life Café 983 Facebook Fan page for a chance to WIN YOUR BURGER, compliments of the house.

Your burger will then be featured on our specials menu with YOUR NAME attached!

Not a Facebook fan yet? Click the Badge below!

Become a Fan!

One Winner will be selected from the Facebook Fan page on November 1st, 2009. No Purchase necessary, yada yada yada!

And check out our friend Brent’s amazing photography at

BEER SPEAK @ Life Cafe 983

Beer as bread…
Andy, Beverage Manager in Bushwick Brooklyn

In the early 14th century, stuck with colder temperatures in Germany, monks were forced to use lagering yeast (activates @ colder temperatures) rather than the ale yeasts (activates warmer) that were more popular in milder regions of Europe. Lagers are generally light, mild flavored beers. During fasting however, monks decided they needed to throw more malts in the beer to add additional nutritional value. This was the invention of the bock style that is growing in popularity. If that wasn’t strong enough, even more malts were pitched and thus… the dopplebock, or double bock. Monks would use these beers in place of bread during Lent and other such Roman Catholic holidays that require fasting.

Sprecher Dopple Bock

Glendale, Wisconsin

(8% ABV)

Beer from Wisconsin? Is it PBR? NO! Although the founder of Sprecher, Randal Sprecher, was in fact a brewing supervisor for Pabst Brewing, he is not making Pabst here. Since it’s founding in 1985, Sprecher has been on the forefront of reviving the lost arts and old world brewing processes. My personal favorite is the Dopple Bock. A little sweetness is added to this malt monster from the use of roasted dark malts. After brewing, the beer is put into cold storage for 6 months. If properly stored, it can be aged for years, calming the sweetness and adding body. Wonderfully complex either way.

Life Cafe 983 Dinner Specials 10/15-10/21


Pan seared marinated steak over mesclun
in a ginger dressing


in a cognac mushroom cream sauce
served with garlic mashed potatoes and spinach

in a dill mustard cream sauce
with mashed potatoes and broccoli

with mushrooms, red pepper, walnuts and spinach
in a soy ginger sauce over linguini

Two brats cooked in beer served with sauerkraut,
Dijon mustard, potatoes and carrots

Bratwurst on a baguette with sauerkraut,
Dijon mustard and of course
one ice cold bottle of Sam Adams Oktoberfest


Veggie Chili was the first hot item I served at Life Café in 1981. Warming, filling, loved by everyone, chili epitomized what people were looking for. Oh, and it was cheap.

To get the Cafe opened quickly I scrounged the neighborhood for snacks, the kinds of munchies loose change would buy. Dennis, a college buddy of David Life’s, arrived from Michigan about that time for a visit, curious and excited over our latest adventure, a real café in New York City.

One day Dennis and I talked about a menu. He jumped up exclaiming, “You must serve CHILI!” I was swept up by his enthusiasm and followed him into my kitchen.

“Start with cans of beans. You got fresh tomatoes? Onions? First sauté up some onions. And lots of garlic. Green pepper is good. You got celery? We can put some of that in. Where are your spices?

“Oh, Dennis, that’s too much cayenne!

“Oh, yeah. Ha, ha! I love it. Let’s throw in some black pepper too. Hot. It’s gotta be hot, hot, hot!

I didn’t serve his recipe but he convinced me about chili! I came up with my own recipe after researching the trusty old vegetarian cookbooks that had traveled with me cross-country. Dave and I were vegetarians since living in Michigan. I enjoyed discovering non-meat alternatives and experimenting with unusual ingredients. At Life Cafe, it was natural for me to serve food Dave and I liked and believed in eating. It was a challenge though to come up with menu ideas to appeal to a wider palate and to find ingredients that weren’t as readily available then as they are today.

But I had a mission. The health and fiscal advantages of vegetarianism were apparent. And I believed that by offering it on our menu showed we cared.

I charged fifty cents for Life’s Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili so our cash strapped artist and non-artist neighbors could enjoy a hot meal. I made sure that my chili was nutritious in case it happened to be the only meal someone ate that day. If a customer had an extra buck and wanted to splurge, the chili was available with brown rice and freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese for a bigger protein boost. This simple dish replenished one’s spirit with a near-to-complete protein meal.

Because it was the first item on Life Cafe’s menu and quickly became its backbone, Life’s Vegetarian Chili holds a special place on the menu for me. It’s a symbol of the ideals that Life Cafe was built upon, and serves as a reminder of where I started. It’s a symbol of what Life Cafe is about.

Life Cafe Naked Music

Yes, but it’s not as racy as it sounds. Naked means acoustic!

Join Dana McCoy
for her Monday Night
starts 8 pm

For more info on Dana, Naked Music and her other projects, go to

Columbus Day at Life Cafe

Yeah, got a day off!
Let’s celebrate.

Come have brunch at Life Cafe East Village and Life Cafe 983 Bushwick
10 am