Just your typical South End deli/bakery/cafe/juice bar/gelateria/organic convenience store
Photo: Marcus Guttenplan
Many budget restaurants I review have a single-item focus: hot dogs, banh mi, zapiekanki. They say, “We do one thing, and do it really well.” Then there are the Swiss army knives, neighborhood spots like El Mondonguito, the Roxbury convenience store/Puerto Rican snack shop/dancehall/bar, or La Fogata, the Eastie bakery/Colombian snack shop/taqueria/ice cream parlor. Tremont Street Cafe falls into the latter category: a South End storefront adjacent to the owner’s long-standing Rome Pizza that combines many concepts, and executes some of them quite well.
|Tremont Street Cafe, located at 418 Tremont Street, in Boston, is open daily, 7 am–6 pm. Call 617.695.2555.|
Its particular mélange is usual. Need caffeine? It serves good espresso drinks ($2.60–$3.95). Tried bubble tea ($4.75) yet? Maybe something healthier to drink? They’ve got fresh-squeezed juices ($1.99) and fresh-fruit smoothies ($5.75). Want a sweet or savory roll to go with that? There’s a case with Danish ($2), bagels ($1.35), muffins ($2.25), cinnamon buns ($2), and croissants ($2.75). The Lebanese owner’s wife makes wonderful fresh baklava ($2) and spinach pies with feta ($2.75). Care for a gelato? That’s also house-made ($2.95–$3.95/one scoop), in 16 flavors. The pride of the open kitchen, though, is the sandwiches, which are fresh, inventive, and delicious. Mediterranean chicken ($7.50) combines grilled chicken breast, house-made hummus, red onion, and roasted red pepper on ciabatta. Roasted eggplant ($6.95) in thin slices is layered with red pepper, caramelized onions, tomatoes, and fluffy feta on brioche. More traditional deli sandwiches ($7.50) are made from Boar’s Head cold cuts, like corned beef, Swiss, coleslaw, and Russian dressing. There’s a daily selection of freshly made soups ($5.50), like a fine vegetarian lentil, and big, handsome green salads ($6.75) in the usual garden, Caesar, and Greek varieties, to which you can add albacore tuna salad ($1.20) or grilled chicken ($1.50).
Should you decide to eat in, there are counter seats and tables for 16 diners. And if you haven’t seen enough yet, there’s also a small convenience-grocery section catering to health-food and fitness fanatics, with organic bottled juices and other drinks, fancy frozen entrées, nutrition bars, energy shots, fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, and organic dry groceries. A reasonable reaction to this odd farrago might be, “It throws everything against a wall to see what sticks.” Another might be, “If this place were on my block, it might be really handy to have around.” I say, any place that does sandwiches and coffee this well can try its hand at whatever else it pleases.
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