Thursday, August 27, 2020
A visit to Anyway Cafe
Text and photos by Stacie Joy
The faint strains of music reach me as I cross over Second Avenue at Second Street to visit Anyway Cafe, 34 E. Second St., the subterranean Russian restaurant known for its infused house-made vodkas and cozy artist-friendly atmosphere that offers free live background music for diners.
The cafe, which opened in late July after the COVID-19 PAUSE, has been in this location for more than 25 years, a time that has seen music lovers gather here to eat Russian-French fusion small plates and sample the creative vodka-based cocktails.
At Anyway, I talk with its audio engineer, Charlie Martin, who previously worked as chief audio and booking agent at CBGB as well as producing and engineering content for Queen Latifah, the Clash and others, to view some of his archival Anyway Stories. He’s been recording and filming the various musical acts showcased at Anyway Cafe over the years and is eager to share samples, which we view on his phone.
We listen to tonight’s Latin music and classics by Yael & Gabriel (Yael Dray-Barel and Gabriel Hermida) as more patrons arrive on this Friday evening to the new (covered) curbside seating, painted by Charlie Hudson, and spacious by social distancing standards. Meanwhile, plates of pelmeni, caviar and crepes arrive for diners as well as their signature martinis. Manager Natasha Stolichnayana even brings out some of her famed horseradish vodka.
[Natasha with a bottle of horseradish-infused vodka]
You can keep up with Anyway Cafe on Facebook. Anyway Cafe is at 34 E. Second St. at Second Avenue. (212) 533-3412.