old habits die hard, and we may always best love the coffee emporium — its two existing locations (one in east hyde park, one downtown) as well as its soon-to-be-third (in the xu union) — but it now faces some competition for the coffee-space in our hearts from the coffee shop on madison, in o’bryonville.
the space is small but has an open feel. when you enter you are bombarded, as you should be, with the sights and smells of the coffee-and-delectables counter. but you can head toward the back and up a few shallow stairs into a cozy reading and drinking nook, or turn left into a larger but still comfy seating area, where you can choose to snuggle up on the couches and browse the coffee-table books (like this one), or you can sit and actually, you know, work at one of the tables. the light is wonderful, since the full-size storefront windows get more or less southern exposure, and the walls host rotating local art. there is a puzzling sign at the back that invites you to explore their secret garden, but it’s either a joke or it requires exiting through a door, which so far has been far too adventuresome for me.
the coffee is not locally roasted, but it is fair trade and mighty yummy. and the bakery treats are scrumptious and generously portioned. on one trip there i ordered a slice of banana bread and the cashier forgot to ring it up. since i didn’t have any cash on hand i decided to forego the treat rather than ring up another $2.95 on my debit card. “no worries,” he said. “just pay us next time you’re in.”
it’s a risky business strategy, but it worked. the banana bread was warm and satisfying, and it made me very willing to return another day to pay for it. (and to sample the sour cream coffee cake.)
add to that the fun window- and actual-shopping that this little stretch of madison road offers, and the coffee shop on madison has become a regular stopping point for us. it’s on my way to work, it’s near my pharmacy, and it’s just up the road from a local yarn store. good
excuses reasons, all, to stop in for a cuppa joe.
–oh! and the waffles! how could i forget the waffles?! on weekends they make fresh belgian waffles courtesy of the waffle slinger, whose recipe, techniques and equipment they use even when the master himself does not appear. you can buy the waffles other days, too, but they will have been cooked on a previous day and stored in the freezer. still good, i’m told, but better i think to make a weekend trip of it for the real fresh thing.
(and apparently the mayor, whom we saw with our very own eyes at the coffee emporium on central parkway, likes the coffee shop on madison as well. just in case you were worried that you wouldn’t see him anywhere other than downtown.)