Cafe St. Germain
Cafe St. Germain opened two months ago with the mantra of fresh food and good coffee. I can usually appreciate a café that's comfortable enough to have its kitchen open to the dining area, but Café St. Germain has its kitchen actually in the dining area.
The L-shaped counter works its way from coffee to pastries and menu options prepared around the back, with a chef sautéing mushrooms at the gas stove when I drop by. On the counter are bowls of fresh produce--bananas, tomatoes, avocados and more--from which he periodically grabs and adds to the mix.
The relatively new spot on Avenue Road north of Lawrence is bustling with activity, and the three staff members behind the counter seem to be having trouble keeping up with demand. Not wanting to burden them further with my questions (and with owner, Tia, not onsite to field them), I order a latte ($3.50) and settle at a table right beside the "kitchen."
There's mostly an older crowd when I stop by; pairs of 50-somethings tackling salads and sandwiches while sitting in bright, lipstick red chairs. That same red is carried throughout the café with some sort of homage to spoons (painted red) on the south wall and mirrored menuboards that look they actually have been inscribed with lipstick. Thereon lies Cafe St. Germain's raison d'être, which can be summed up with the words "local," "organic," and "seasonal."
The barista brings over my latte, and I manage to get in a question or two. She tells me brunch (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) on weekends has been the café's big draw, with offerings such as organic yogurt, homemade granola, and seasonal fruit ($6.00), three-egg omelettes with organic asparagus and cheese ($12.00), and French toast with berries and real maple syrup ($14.00).
The descriptions immediately have me salivating, so I decide to pair my latte with caramel coffee cake bite ($1.50). It's no brunch plate, but the cake is sweet and moist and manages to satiate my hunger while I sip my latte.
Café St. Germain currently uses Illy beans, though according to the barista, that may change. My latte is served in a tall, skinny glass, which negates any opportunity for latte art. The drink is smooth and creamy, but just a little too bold for my taste. There are plenty of other flavours though, both on the food and drink menu, including Belgian dark chocolate mochas ($4.00) and made-to-order sandwiches and salads.
Cafe St. Germain is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
Photos by Jesse Milns