We'll admit it -- we set our expectations far too high.

We finally broke down -- we decided to try one of those "$4 cup of coffee" places. We went to Emporio Rulli Il Caffè--that's the one on Union Square.

Mrs. Trimethyldioxypurist had been there and proclaimed the lattes to be transcendent. A friend whose taste in coffee we trust had similar sentiments. The proprietor of one of our favorite coffee joints had recommended it as well. And it was a beautiful day to boot; Union Square was a perfect place to be.

We suppose everybody else felt that way too.

So how much were we negatively influenced by the crazy crowds? Quite a bit. Get out your salt shakers. We were wholly unimpressed with Rulli; the coffee was merely passable, the prices abhorrent, the logistical set-up of the place counterintuitive. The only saving grace was the courteous, calm-under-pressure staff that was manning the place.

Photo from Rulli's Web site, http://rulli.com