MeMe’s Diner & this bangin’ Vietnamese Iced Coffee Cake

MeMe’s Diner.

(y’all, when I went to MeMe’s it was after a long, full day event and i was exhausted.

i totally forgot to take any photos and just scarfed my food down.

all photos of MeMe’s below from their website will be credited with photographers names.)

GOOD FOOD. GOOD DRINKS. GOOD PEOPLE ….   & GREAT CAKE!

MeMe’s is the diner you see on tv or in a movie, but rarely ever get in real life. It’s old school yet modern, the food is great but entirely unpretentious. And in a city where everyone is constantly trying too hard, MeMe’s does comfort and style in a seemingly effortless fashion. It’s utterly charming.

from the infatuation
(photo from an article in The Infatuation by Katherine Lewin)

Since it’s opening on November 29, 2017 MeMe’s has been a self declared queer space. An immediately beloved piece of the LGBTQ community in New York. Owned and run by Libby Willis & Bill Clark and largely staffed by members of the queer community, their values are made clear by the way their guests and employees are treated. It’s a welcoming and comfortable environment where you can sit down and feel right at home. Their approach to hospitality is one of inclusion, love and respect. Meme’s has specific policies that make it a safe and comfortable place for queer and trans diners. The staff is instructed to use gender-neutral language and not to second guess names on credit cards that don’t match their assumptions about a person based on the way they look. They recently hosted Queer Soup Night as well as their new “Family Meal” Queer Industry Night events.

photo by noah fecks
photo by Noah Fecks

Now on to the meal. Dinner starts with a dish of cheeseballs and a bottle of house made chili oil to drizzle over the top. I can’t say how much I adore this. It’s perfectly low brow (in the best possible way) and super tasty. I ordered the Buffalo Chicken Salad, Jeff got the Patty Melt with Crispy Potatoes… and of course I threw in a side of Mac & Cheese. The salad was awesome, the lettuce and veggies perfectly dressed, the chicken super crispy while still coated in a generous amount of buffalo sauce and big crumbles of blue cheese strewn about the top. I didn’t even get a bite of Jeff’s patty melt. I did devour the delicious velveeta style mac and cheese with crumbled potato chips on top that sent me flying back to my childhood with each bite. Everything was seasoned and executed well. The menu was inventive but old school. The servers were super friendly and helpful. The only problem was I was so full I couldn’t eat another bite of food and I’d been eyeing the Vietnamese Iced Coffee Cake from the minute we walked in the door. (It sits on the bar top under a glass cake dome. Well played MeMe’s, well played.) I ordered a slice to go and we hopped up to leave.

(As someone who’s worked as a server for a long time I must implore people to be considerate of the size of MeMe’s. It’s a small place. There’s probably people waiting to sit down. Please don’t linger once you’ve finished your food and drinks. Small restaurants need to turn tables to make money and stay in business. for real.)

Steve Viksjo2
Buffalo Chicken Salad photo by Steve Viksjo

The next morning I woke up, made my coffee and sat down to eat my now Vietnamese Iced Coffee Breakfast* Cake. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. I will 100% be returning to MeMe’s soon…. but I live…. on Long Island. womp womp womppppp. So I decided I need this cake in my life more often than I can make it over to MeMe’s. (also…. i want to try all of their other desserts too!)

So two weeks later, here it is. My version of MeMe’s Vietnamese Iced Coffee Cake.

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VIETNAMESE ICED COFFEE CAKE

Chocolate Espresso Glaze:

3 tablespoons (45g) strong cold brew coffee

2 tablespoons (10g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon (5g) espresso powder

1 teaspoon (2g) ground cardamom

1 ½ ounces (42 g) chopped chocolate, the darker the better

¼ tsp kosher salt

¼ cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

In a small bowl, mix together cold brew coffee, cocoa powder, espresso powder, ground cardamom, salt and chopped chocolate. In a small sauce pan bring heavy cream and corn syrup to a boil. As soon as the cream boils, turn the heat off and pour over the chocolate mixture.  Let sit for a minute, then stir together until silky smooth. Let cool at room temperature. Store in fridge up to 3 weeks.

Coffee Cake:

1 ¼ cups (280g) neutral oil

½ cup (130 g) strong cold brew coffee

1 ¾ cups (375g) granulated sugar

4 eggs, separated

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 tablespoons (10g) espresso powder

1/2 teaspoon (1g) cardamom

2 ¼ (400g) cups cake flour

1 tablespoon (15g) baking powder

1 teaspoon (3g) salt

1 ½ cups (350g) sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare two 8 inch cake pans with non stick baking spray and parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, cold brew coffee, sugar, vanilla and egg yolks. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until very light and fluffy (Make sure the mixer bowl is very clean and there are no traces of oil or your egg whites will not get light and fluffy!). While egg whites are whipping, mix together dry and wet ingredients. Mix to combine. Fold the whipped egg whites into batter until no streaks remain. Fold sour cream into batter until evenly combined.

Divide batter evenly between pans. Bang on the countertop to release air bubbles. Bake for 30 minutes, or until tops of cakes are golden and bounce back slightly when pressed. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely before assembling.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Swiss Meringue Buttercream (what a mouthful!)

2/3 cup (170g) egg whites, from 5-6 large eggs

1 2/3 cup (310g) lightly toasted sugar

1 (4g) teaspoon diamond crystal kosher salt

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Scraped seeds from 1 vanilla bean

2 1/2 cups (5 sticks, 565g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

8 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

Bring 2 inches of water to a gentle simmer in a large, wide pot. Combine egg whites, sugar, salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla seeds in a bowl that will sit onto the top of the pot (be sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water!). Set over steaming water, stirring constantly with a spatula, until egg whites hold steady at 185°F. When the mixture reaches 185°F, transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment and whip on high for about 10 minutes. The end result should be a thick, glossy, stiff meringue.

While the mixer is running on medium speed, add butter a tablespoon at a time. Initially the meringue will deflate, maybe even look broken. DON’T PANIC! It’s okay. It probably doesn’t look like it but IT WILL BE OKAY. Keep adding the butter tablespoon by tablespoon and the buttercream will become thick and creamy. Once the buttercream has reached this stage, add the sweetened condensed milk and continue to whip on medium speed until fully incorporated.

ASSEMBLE YOUR CAKE!!!:

You’ll need an offset spatula and a rotating cake stand.

(or not. It’s just easier that way.)

Start off by making sure your cakes are level. Done? Great.  Put the first layer of your cake onto your cake stand and scoop about a ½ – 2/3 cup of your frosting on top. Spread the frosting out evenly, drizzle some of your chocolate espresso glaze over the top and then gently place the second layer on top. Frost the cake with remaining buttercream. Then using your spatula, make swirls of your espresso chocolate glaze all over the cake to give it that iced coffee look. Sprinkle the finished cake with espresso powder and dig in!

And if you’re in New York, go try MeMe’s and support a fantastic small business.

MeMe’s Diner is located at 657 Washington Ave in Brooklyn, New York. For more information, visit their website

steve viksjo3

Bill Clark & Libby Willis photo by: Steve Viksjo

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