Ever since O and I moved into our first apartment, we’ve been taking nightly walks around our neighborhood in East Williamsburg and often found ourselves exploring to and through Bushwick, curious to find local eateries, cafes, and bars.
I passed by Demi-Monde several times while it was under construction, particularly fascinated by the interior from the outside. A few weeks ago while we were passing by for another nightly walk, a man outside the cafe overheard us talking about it, and invited us in for a glass of wine. He was one of the owners.
I’ve never been so comforted by this warm hospitality and friendliness that I missed from back in Orange County and wasn’t discoverable in New York City. What I thought would just be one drink, ended up being a couple of cozy hours of chatting over his wine bar with Evan the co-owner, while sipping on glasses from bottles of various wines from France and bowls of marinated fava beans that I found particularly addicting. Not only was it way past my usual bedtime, but I’ve never slept better and been more proud of discovering a favorite local wine bar, one that celebrates fine foods without the hostile mobs I prefer to avoid.
My constant search for a nearby cafe that I could 1) work comfortably at 2) sip on decent coffee and/or tea [no I’m not the coffee snob] 3) work with outlets 4) order a small bite/meal and that dreamy night …pushed me to come back over, and over again. I’m a sucker for cafes and wine bars, so the fact that Demi-Monde fulfilled my cravings by functioning as that cafe at day, a cool wine bar by night, and a 5 minute walk from us with great service, tapas nights, and movie nights has been particularly sweet to me.
Since then, I’ve returned regularly to get some work done. Aside from their coffee and wine selection, the Yuzu Ricotta Toast tops everything I’ve tried. Although (to me) it is particularly spicy, the hot citrus yuzu sauce brings me back to Japan. The citrus and spicy flavors balances so well with the creamy ricotta and thick maple syrup always lathered on Saraghina toast. Spicy food has made me cringe, but the Yuzu Ricotta Toast is so delicious and filling and nostalgic and dreamy without being overly unhealthy.
After a few visits, I couldn’t help but ask the owners about how their background story in opening this casually comfortable cafe in the day and wine bar in the evening.
Here’s some Q&A from Evan the co-owner of Demi-Monde.
1) What is the relationship between Demi-Monde’s owners ?
We grew up together in Houston, Texas and [Evan and I] have been friends for 20 years.
2) Who designed the interior?
The interior design is a group effort between the owners and our wives. We knew what we wanted to achieve aesthetically and we worked with an architect to bring our vision to life in such a small space. Every square inch of available space is being put to use. We took advantage of the raw brick accent wall that was already there and designed a sleek, minimal, modern feeling aesthetic that complemented the brick perfectly. The place is meant to be elegant, yet welcoming to all. It is intended to be a great daytime spot to enjoy lunch and a coffee with natural light pouring into a plant filled space, as well as a wonderful evening location to enjoy excellent wine by candlelight. We are also excited about the way the back den lounge area turned out. It has a tucked away retreat feel to the rest of the café and is a perfect spot to hang out for meetings, writing, or great conversation.
3) What are some of the major materials used in the interior?
The interior is elegant, clean, and modern, with excellent natural light. We made use of a lot of white marbled quartz surfaces, juxtaposed with black steel. Our countertops, tabletops, standing bar, and shelves are all marbled quartz and our table bases, shelving foundation, and structural elements are all black steel. This black and white feel is rounded out with a lot of plant life throughout the space, as well as colorful art on display that is regularly rotated.
4) Could you please tell me about the process in designing/building?
When we signed the lease, there was zero build out. It was being used as a storage room for the rest of the building. We built out everything that you see at the space. Looking at the before and after pictures is very surreal. We turned a small storage area into a fully functioning café, making amazing use of all available space. Vertical building became a vital aspect of achieving an open feel and still getting the most out of what we required to function. We are very happy with the results of the build out and design.
5) What does Demi Monde mean to you?
Demi Monde is French for half world, as well as a term used in 19th century France to refer to those who were déclassé and on the outskirts of society. The name stuck for our café since we were focused on a name that reflected the small size of our location, as it is only about ten feet wide and around 950 sq ft. It also fit perfectly as a double meaning that conveyed the ethos of our café, a balance between Epicureanism and hedonism. Eat, drink, and be merry, all while treading lightly and keeping a small footprint. This is why we are focused on using only fresh ingredients, real food, organic and sustainably sourced coffee, tea, and wine, as well as composting all of our organic waste and using only compostable to go containers for all of our items.
Although I particularly love this cafe for how quiet, serene, and delicious it is and like to think of it as my own secret cafe (and secret bar at night), I highly recommend it for any Brooklynite or anyone in Brooklyn looking for a new spot that specializes in creative vegetarian food, coffee, and wine selections.
257 Varet St, Brooklyn, NY 11206