Darlington and I are breakfast buddies. Our schedules can be tricky to match up, but now and again we seem to find time to squeeze in an early morning bite. We try as often as possible to rotate between our usual haunts, and this time we found ourselves at Harvard Square’s Crema Café.
Crema Café takes up a space formerly occupied by an Au Bon Pain, something I personally find thrilling because I:
- can’t stand Au Bon Pain; and
- happily welcome independently-owned businesses, particularly those opening their doors in chain-dominated areas like Harvard Square.
Unlike its predecessor’s in-and-out set up, the café’s layout encourages lingering over a cup of coffee and a scone. There’s ample seating inside — including at a large and battered farmhouse-style table — as well as smaller tables set up outside, directly in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows. After ordering, Darlington and I headed up to the loft, another seating area overlooking the main floor.
The menu at Crema focuses mainly on baked goods such as muffins, croissants, biscotti and other cookies. If I’m going to take a moment to eat breakfast, I need more than a sweet to get me going; I decided to go with a toasted sesame bagel with caper cream cheese and lox ($2.25, plus 25¢ for the caper cream cheese), because I can rarely resist a bagel with lox and cream cheese. I also ordered a medium caffe latte with a shot of vanilla ($3.10, plus 50¢ for the flavor shot). I’m proud to say that I was able to carry my latte, with its lovely marbleized foam, up the stairs to the loft without spilling a drop. That’s quite a feat for a twinkle-toes like me.
My breakfast bagel was good, though nothing spectacular; it certainly satisfied my lox craving, albeit temporarily. If I were to order it again, I would most likely eschew the caper cream cheese for plain; I expected that the capers would add saltiness to the cheese, but even I was surprised by its intensity. If I were getting an onion or garlic bagel without lox the caper might be the way to go, but once the already-salty fish is added to the mix, it is almost overwhelming.
What makes Crema such a lovely spot is most definitely the aesthetic of the café, as well as its ambiance and friendly employees. The feeling you get while nursing a cup of something warm is that, should you feel so inclined, you could while away the morning without anyone uttering a word to coerce you into buying another scone. Could you ask for anything more from your neighborhood café? I don’t think so.
27 Brattle Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138