Review: Village Heart Bakery Café

A truly Continental breakfast, and much more
By JOHNETTE RODRIGUEZ  |  August 31, 2010

It's a straightforward principle but the Village Hearth Bakery Café has perfected it: keep things simple and the quality will shine through. Since 2001, the Village Hearth's breads and pastries have been a Jamestown treasure, luring the rest of us to make special trips to the island for their whole-grain, sourdough loaves and hearty, scrumptious pastries.

When I heard that the long-planned-for café was now open for breakfast and lunch, it was only a matter of time before we got ourselves there on a Friday morning to enjoy breakfast and to take home sandwiches for lunch.

The café space, inside and out, is very inviting. Inside, the walls and woodwork are in two shades of cheerful spring green; a wood stove is ready for chilly days, with an enviable collection of sea glass, rocks, and shells behind it, and a child's hand-lettered sign imploring visitors: "Please do not touch the sea glass."

Village Heart Bakery Café | 401.423.9282 | 2 Watson Ave, Jamestown | Fri 7 am-4 pm; Sat 7 am-3 pm; Sun 8 am-1 pm + 4:30-7:30 pm [Pizza only] | Cash or checks | BYOB | Sidewalk-level Access
Light pours in through skylights, windows, and large screen panels to the deck (glassed-in for wintertime). Photos of bakers/cooks Andrea Colognese and wife Doriana Carella (by Ed Lefkowicz) and of their two young daughters are prominent; tables are copper-topped, chairs steel-backed. The effect is chic, elegant, Continental.

The latter is particularly apropos, because the "Continental breakfast" — despite changing breakfast habits in Europe — does survive, especially a morning croissant with a cup of coffee. At the Village Hearth, there are approximately nine coffee/espresso variations, concocted from New Harvest Coffee Roasters. There are also many herb teas, caffeinated teas, and (oh joy!) hot chocolate made from steamed milk.

That mug, reminiscent of the pitcher of dark-as-coffee hot cocoa I was served in a Venetian pension, along with one of Village Hearth's scones and/or muffins, is indeed a full breakfast. There's no need for eggs and potatoes with a whole wheat/oat bran/raisin muffin and a peach-mango scone, the texture of which was dense and chewy, very unlike the cakey/biscuity pastries that try to pass as scones in most places.

Bill had the one breakfast-like item on display (there was no quiche that day): a ham-and-cheese croissant, which he loved, followed by a sticky bun, which he graciously shared (as I had my scone). It was nicely sticky and cinnamony on top, with plenty of chopped pecans, and not overly sweet.

The sandwiches (which can be grilled panini-style, if you're eating there) are veggie (on that morning, roasted spinach with black olive paste, tomato, lettuce, fresh basil, Green Goddess dressing, extra virgin olive oil, $7); meat (mortadella, salami, cheese, and the above embellishments, $7.50); and Caprese (fresh mozzarella and sliced tomatoes with lettuce, basil, and EVO, $6.75). The latter is made on a fresh ciabatta roll; the others can be ordered on a baguette or eight-grain bread. The special of the day was a lobster roll on a brioche ($13).

I grabbed the latter, with nary a sample for Bill — it was just too good. A heaping mound of lobster salad, delicious with chopped sweet pickles, balanced atop a brioche roll — this was a fork-and-knife sandwich for sure.

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