Cafe Novo just opened today, right atop High Park station, facing the park. The location, which has gone from a convenience store, to a Latin bar, to most recently a New Zealand themed pub (the Kiwi-Kick), is perfect for a cafe. The cafe's arrival is welcomed, as the neighbourhood has been needing one for decades.
When I walk in, Elizabeth and Sadie really do have their job cut out for them. It's 7:30 in the morning and, despite being an early riser, it's not easy for me to be a beaming bubble of joy at this time of day. They take the challenge with stride, greeting me with glowing cheer while filling someone's order.
Elizabeth makes me a press coffee ($1.75) using their fair trade organic Planet Bean while Sadie, a pastry chef by profession, fills me in on all the freshly baked goods up for grabs -- including steaming hot pumpkin vanilla muffins and the cookie of the month (meringues), from which all proceeds go to charity.
Everything is organic or fair trade, and most of the goods are either vegan, or gluten-free, or both. I get an almond butter chocolate chip cookie ($1.50) and head over to the back to enjoy my treat.
The cafe is beautiful. I'm blown away. The dark wood and light green walls are lit up by the park-facing, full-wall window. When it's nice outside they roll up the window to let the sun shine through.
There's a large kitchen behind the coffee counter where Sadie will bake fresh goods twice a day, and a small menu might come in the fullness of time.
I love the size of the tables, the cozy little chairs, the board games and the huge amount of space between the tables. I'm used to cafes cramming me into corners, especially in this neck of the woods, but instead I've got room to sprawl out.
I bite into my cookie. It's chewy at first and then crumbles richly in my mouth. It's a sensational texture. The almond really comes through and is kicked up with a strong hit of vanilla. The scattering of sweet, buttery, milk chocolate chips melt lusciously on my tongue.
I sip my brew. The press coffee is full-bodied and delightfully grainy in taste, though smooth in texture. I'm usually an espresso person, but this has me converted.
As for options, they have mild, medium, and bold press coffee, decaf and regular espresso, and an admirable selection of tea from Tealish. They have the standard soy milk, cream, and 2% and are thinking of adding almond milk to the roster. Having so far been unable to find a cafe that has almond milk, my fingers are crossed.
The girls welcome their customers with a sincere joy that simply pours over the counter. It's obviously contagious as everyone who comes in leaves with a pronounced bounce in their step. The girls even run around the counter to help strollers up the stairs.
Their patio, which wraps around the corner, is large and is only waiting on the city for the permit to come through before it'll be up in full swing.
This is a beautiful stop on the way to the park, on the way to the subway, or as a final destination itself. I'm excited to finally have a cafe to call my own where I can enjoy a morning cup of joe before hopping down the stairs to the subway and squeezing into the sardine can that is the Toronto transit system.
As evidence of my new-found love for Cafe Novo, I only leave to go get my computer, come right back, and settle in to study.
Cafe Novo is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day but Sunday, when it opens at 9 a.m. It's closed Wednesdays, and extended hours are to come.