Adam Keita has been committed to creating community in this part of Brooklyn for nearly three years now, ever since he opened Daughter in Crown Heights. The ever-evolving coffee shop, wine bar and event space, as he’s fond of saying, is engaged in “a constant dialogue” with its guests specifically and the neighborhood at large.
So although Keita didn’t really have grand plans to open another location, when he was looking for some additional baking space nearby to handle Daughter’s pastry supply, he stumbled upon Che right over the Bed-Stuy border. The space was already mostly designed and somewhat built out by Kai Avent-deLeon of Sincerely, Tommy. It even had a name. So a new collaboration, and concept, just kind of fell into place.
“We saw the space and all my friends started getting involved,” Keita tells Brooklyn Magazine. “We’ve all been friends from high school so it was just like, yeah this makes sense, let’s do Che.”
Those friends are Ariel Perez, Alex Sierra and Tyler Ortiz, who join Keita and Avent-deLeon as Che’s co-owners and operators. All are native New Yorkers, and, for such a small space, Che brings a lot of energy to this stretch of Malcolm X Boulevard.
Starting at 10 a.m. and running through the evening, Che serves a full selection of coffee drinks (they use coffee-nerd favorites Sey and Uncommon for their beans) and an appealing menu of snacks and brunchy dishes from chef Grace Ward, who grew up in Texas and worked as a farmer for two years in Rhode Island before joining the Che/Daughter team.
The star of the show here is Ward’s breakfast sandwich, a pile of soft scrambled egg nestled in a brioche bun along with a slice of pickled green tomato and a generous schmear of housemade pimento cheese. It’s got heft, it’s got gloppiness, it’s got acid. It’s definitely one of the best egg sandwiches available anywhere in Brooklyn right now.
If you’re in the mood for something sweeter (and fruitier), Che’s bowl of porridge is a delight, the chewy millet infused with vanilla and apple blossom, a hefty dose of hibiscus coconut cream and plenty of fresh pineapple guava keeping things lively. Also lively, and also very good, is Ward’s curried yuca flatbread, which you drag through mounds of harissa mashed pumpkin. Che’s pastries look pretty killer as well.
Starting on January 3, Che will keep the party going well into the night, with cocktails (via Perez), a full wine list (via Sierra) and a menu of vegetable-focussed small plates. Ward was kind enough to whip up a couple of preview dinner dishes for us, including a hearty bowl of marinated butter beans with candied walnuts, radicchio and shaved parmesan. Among the other nighttime options will be a stuffed cabbage roll, a ricotta and fennel tatin, and something called a “five-piece celeriac steak.”
The goal of all of this, beyond keeping the neighborhood fed, caffeinated and a bit tipsy, is to provide a gathering place for Bed-Stuy locals from morning until at least midnight. “Bed-Stuy is just so beautiful and wholesome,” says Keita. “I grew up in the Bronx, and in Harlem, but I’ve lived in Crown Heights for a while now, and Brooklyn is treating me well.”
Che is located at 302 Malcolm X Boulevard, between Decatur and MacDonough Streets, and is currently open on Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. After a break for the holidays, Che will launch its evening service with drinks and dinner on January 3.
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