What do you call a coffee shop when it’s more than just a coffee shop? In Island Park, East Rock Coffee extends well beyond the traditional definition of the genre. Visiting East Rock may feel more like visiting a dear friend’s living room, and the aesthetic is intentional. A velvet sofa, comfy chairs and ottomans, and an uncharacteristically bold floral wallpaper feel as far away from chain coffee joints as could possibly be.
But on the coffee front, this ain’t your pal’s living room. East Rock’s espresso bar can customize any drink you feel like enjoying, with any milk or organic syrup, to boot. In addition to the traditional espresso-based drinks, the bar also offers up specialty items, like a white mocha, and a so-called iced Pink Island (the color says it all). If you’re expecting run-of-the-mill coffee syrup flavorings, well, East Rock has some surprises in store. Although hazelnut and caramel are available, so are lavender, rose, and raspberry. (Make your drink millennial pink, as it were.)
East Rock neither begins nor ends with coffee, though. On weekends, customers can enjoy vegan donuts from the pastry counter. The rest of the week, they can enjoy other baked goods, too, like a selection of croissants (vegan, chocolate, almond, plain, and multigrain).
Then there is the plentiful menu itself: sit-down options that push the boundaries of what a coffee shop actually is. A charcuterie board includes a duck pate, prosciutto, Manchego and Fontina cheeses, fig jam, Asian pear slices, walnuts, cucumbers, and toasted slices of baguette. But if the cheese is more of your passion, there’s a burrata “duet,” which comes with roasted red peppers, a balsamic vinaigrette, and a Chimichurri sauce, all atop cherry tomatoes.
The restaurant also offers a selection of crostinis (avocado with capers, lox, and a sunny-side-up egg; Manchego cheese, bacon, and a runny egg; honey-roasted Asian pear, whipped goat cheese and ricotta, fig jam; roasted honeynut squash, pomegranate seeds, whipped goat cheese). There are sandwiches and salads, but the most impressive feat, perhaps, is that East Rock, a coffee shop, has managed to produce a compelling roster of personal pizzas. The burrata and Chimichurri pie comes with mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and basil, too. A prosciutto pizza is amplified by Fontina and Manchego cheeses, cherry tomatoes, arugula, and a balsamic vinaigrette.
East Rock offers a weekend brunch, too, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. There, you’ll find a pared-down menu, along with a bespoke teatime platter for two: croissants, scones, burrata and lox crostinis, and crostinis made with avocado and quail eggs. Whether you head in for a sip or for a more languid meal, East Rock is not your average coffee shop. And that’s a good thing.
For more on East Rock Coffee, please visit their Facebook page.