Savoury Grounds (Kingston Road)
Savoury Grounds seemed like a nice place to take my mom (and my sister) on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Rather, it seemed like a nice place to implore my mom to take her unable-to-drive daughter(s), who needed to get back to the city (from Brampton), stat.
Located out of the central downtown core, I figured this excursion would be a piece of cake for my rush hour-phobic and GPS-challenged family. Well, I figured wrong, but what better way to soothe one's nerves than with a strong, fresh-roasted and steaming Americano and an easily-obtained (thank God) parking spot? After an hour of misunderstanding-fueled motor mayhem: nothing, I say.
Savoury Grounds welcomed me and my Mom (and sister) with open arms. Around for eleven years, it's a settled and well lived-in space; a nice change of pace from the hugeness and newness I've been seeing so much of lately. The regulars quietly flow in and out, a diverse group widely ranging in age, but seeming to share a demeanour: relaxed. My metropolis-wary mother takes great comfort in this fact, remarking upon the cafe's lovely "rustic" quality, and claiming to feel "like I'm far from the city...until I step outside." I can almost hear the backed-up highway traffic in her voice.
We dig into into our perfectly-grilled Panini (a decent, but very basic Turkey & Havarti- $5.45) and respective drinks. Though my tea-loving sister takes joyful notice at their selection of "Numi tea!', it's just no match for a pomegranate, blueberry and Acai smoothie ($3.95). My willpower is also no match for the giant cranberry, blueberry and coconut muffin ($2) that will soon follow (nor should it be).
When the rush quiets a bit, we chat with the staff about the 2 other locations in the city. Though this is the centre of their savoury universe; the place where they roast all their own beans at the rate of every 48 hours, ensuring a reliable, crazy-freshness that can even be ordered to your door. The roasting would be even more frequent if it weren't for the excessive smoke they'd inflict upon their neighbours, she adds. The image of a coffee cloud (a part of the process which I'd never considered) just about blows my mind, and I immediately want to ask how awesome it smells...but I refrain.
She notices me admiring some poetry on the wall and proudly tells me "one of our regulars wrote that. Every so often she comes in and replaces it with a new one." This is the kind of thing that I just eat up, and I find myself feeling envious of anyone possessing such a comfort level with their favourite hangout. After nearly an hour though, we're not doing bad ourselves.
My mom and sister casually shout across the room, from table to counter about sugar-free syrups for my mom's steamed milk ($2.75, large), and at least two of us patrons sing "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band" under breath, but in harmony. The staff are unfazed, and even in on both "conversations". That's just the kind of place they've got here.