MENO Pairs Philosophy with Crepe Cakes & Tea in Greenwich Village

2021, Sep 11

MENO is a minimalist coffee and tea shop on Thompson Street, about two blocks south of Washington Square Park. The stores’ philosophical underpinnings, much like the crepe cakes, are rich and multi-layered.

The coffee shop’s website puts forth the definition of ‘meno’ as ‘to desire beautiful things and to have the power to acquire them,’ and notes this definition as taken from a book written by Plato, around 400 B.C.

I’m not aiming to poke at MENO — the coffee shop — for historical accuracy, but based on a bit of cursory research, I believe ‘Meno’ was the namesake general of Plato’s book, who posited the ‘desire-beauty-power’ triune as a definition of virtue.

Meno, the person, was subsequently refuted by Socrates, who pointed out tht people may unwittingly desire beautiful things which are bad, and thus, not virtuous.

Meno eventually forms a counter to Socrates in the form of "Meno’s paradox," which essentially states (fully cribbing the University of Washington faculty website here):

  • If you know what you’re looking for, inquiry is unnecessary.
  • If you don’t know what you’re looking for, inquiry is impossible.
  • Therefore, inquiry is either unnecessary or impossible.

Socrates (as characterized by Plato) takes the above paradox all the way down the metaphysical ladder to claim that virtue is not necessarily taught, but recollected from a priori truths, bestowed on us by the gods.

Is your head spinning yet? Good, I’m warmed up; now let’s talk about MENO’s food and drink.

MENO has a vibrant collection of frothy and fruity teas, perfect for sipping and musing over metaphysics. My green apple lemonade was just the right amount of sour, a wonderful treat for a hot summer evening.

The slice of mango crepe cake I picked up was delicate and silky. Each layer was pumped through with a subtly-sweet mousse-creme; I would have liked a bit more mango flavor here, but as far as texture and overall flavor, the cake was a killer.

MENO gets a 8.7 out of 10. The service was sweet, the cake was delectable, the tea was refreshing, and hey — when’s the last time I (re-)learned philosophy writing a restaurant review?

Until next time.