The Coffee House Above Bloomsbury

It was a toasty-warm Thursday morning, so I decided to get in touch with my trendy side and take my computer down to The Coffee House Above Bloomsbury Books, my favorite hangout place, have breakfast, and continue working on crafting the great American novel.

Ordinarily I would have gone outside and settled myself under one of the floral canopies at one of the tables where I could listen to the Zen-like cadence of the water splashing from the fountain. But it was so quiet and peaceful indoors at the table next to the bookstore side of the café, I couldn't resist.

The morning crowd had only started to trickle in and the more talkative afternoon patrons were hours away from arriving. A woman sat at a table alone reading and nursing a cup of coffee. A man sat in one of the overstuffed chairs, melting into the background.

From the speakers overhead in the bookstore, I could just make out the sultry voice of a cabaret chanteuse. The speakers at the café were playing something soft on the clarinet that sounded intermittently like strains from "Bolero." The two sounds met and mixed at my table.

Actually, my idea of breakfast at a restaurant is pancakes and eggs, but they aren't available at The Coffee House. Instead, it has a to-die-for breakfast burrito, complete with chips — one of my favorite food groups. In a way it's kind of like having eggs and home fries in a wrap.

The burrito is a mere $5.75, but don't let its diminutive price fool you. The flour tortilla is packed with eggs, potatoes, butter, herbs, spices and cheddar cheese and served with the aforementioned chips with salsa and sour cream.

The potatoes are chunks of the real thing, not the powdered variety that sometimes shows up in breakfast dishes. The spuds still had skins on them to prove it. And cheddar instead of American cheese is always a good thing.

I could have had a turkey breakfast burrito or even one of the quiches. But my burrito was pleasantly filling and would keep me well-fueled for the ardors of the day ahead.

Since I was feeling particularly festive, I also ordered a slice of orange poppy seed cake for $1.75. I couldn't help it. The folks at the café insist on setting out these yummy cakes, cookies and biscotti right there on the counter in front of you. It's hard enough to pass up the carrot cake, pies and fruit bars in the display case. And much of the food is organic. The poppy seed cake was the perfect complement to the savory burrito. It was moist, with a tasty citrus zing to it.

And naturally I had to have a wet cappuccino to go with the whole ensemble for $2.45. In the past I have never ordered a wet anything, assuming that if it's a drink, it's already wet. I remember as a child being perplexed at what my parents were thinking when they ordered a dry martini.

A wet espresso drink has to do with the amount of steamed milk vs. foam. The cappuccinos at The Coffee House are so good that I have almost stopped drinking lattes. Imagine. And their coffee and espresso are 100 percent organic, shade-grown and fair trade.

When I left, the man in the overstuffed chair was gone, replaced by a threesome, but the lone woman at the table was still there. It's just that kind of place.

— Richard Moeschl

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