Benedict

It was Natasha’s birthday! Ish. It was Natasha’s ish birthday. So we went to brunch!

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By that I mean two things: 1) Natasha’s birthday was a week later but she was planning on being out of town so we celebrated before and 2) we are always looking for an excuse to brunch. Always.

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Moreover, Natasha has been dying to go to Benedicts for some time now. And since it was her birthday, Leo, Francesca, Sid and Natasha’s friend joined us. Finally, because this is pretty busy place normally we went to brunch at an abnormal time. Benedicts is open 24 hours a day (new favorite 24 hour place, honestly better than any club could possibly be), so we went for a 17:00 brunch.

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And it was surprisingly delightful.

Quality: 83.33%

Overall quality- We all got different varieties of eggs benedict (with one exception), and given that the restaurant is named “Benedict”, we had high expectations. They were not met. The overall plate was not well balanced, with the ratio of bread (too dry), hollandaise and eggs etc. very off. However, the taste overall was good.

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And more importantly (and why the score is so high) was the dessert. And by dessert, I mean we ordered pancakes after we were done with our eggs benedict. Moreover, we mentioned it was Natasha’s birthday, so they put candles on our pancakes. Francesca, Natasha and I split the banana pancakes, which had coconut flakes and condensed milk on them (delish) and Leo and Sid split the chocolate pancakes. We were all enthusiastically pleased. It almost made up for the dodginess of the eggs benedict.

But the place is named Benedict, so we expected more from the eggs benedict.

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Eggs- Perfectly cooked, both the scrambled eggs on the avocado bagel (as we know from Shakespeare and Sons, bagels are always better than toast, and so by extension, avocado bagels are always better than avocado toast), and the poached eggs in the benedict were perfectly cooked.

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Hollandaise sauce- A little thicker than I would normally like. The flavor was good, but the texture was off. However, the biggest problem was the quantity. There was barely enough to cover the eggs, let alone the VERY dry bread. In general, I object to eggs benedict that are made on toast, but this was especially dry and a bit too much. If you go, plan on getting extra hollandaise on the side.

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Beverages: 76.25 %

All the meals come with a free mimosa, which comes in a variety of flavors (lychee, orange, pineapple, peach and something with kir royale). They look lovely! However, a few small things: 1) they used sparkling riesling instead of champagne (lame) 2) the orange juice wasn’t orange juice, it was orange flavored water. Like koolaid, or tang.

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However, they brought a free round because it was Natasha’s Birthday-ish. Not just a free drink for her, but for the whole table. Which was awesome, and made us like the mimosas more (it could be because the more you drink the less judgy you are about what you’re drinking. This is just a fact).

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The latte was delicious, one of the best in town. And it looked delightful.

Presentation: 88.33 %

Ok, the meals all looked really cool. Great for instagramming, which could be why it has such a strong following.

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Diversity: 95 %

Benedicts along with Rose Garden bring up the question of “how much choice is too much choice?” However, unlike the Rose Garden, all the options look really good. Although we were all drawn to the eggs benedict, after the pancake dessert, I want to come back and try the rest of the menu.

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Ambiance: 80.83 %

The music was a bit loud and way weird. I was able to hear everyone, but if Ben would have been there, we wouldn’t have been able to have anything remotely resembling a conversation. The table was lovely and the lighting was sufficient. I am curious how this place is at 3am, and I hope to at some point find out.

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Point of this story is that it was not the best, but arguably not the worst. And importantly, worth a second visit.

Overall Score: 84.22 %

Price: 16.83

 

 

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Anna’s Place

You may have noticed by now that my co-workers have gotten into the brunch game. And as I was mentioning this very blog during a ladies night dinner and my co-worker Anna mentioned that she makes a mean brunch. And she wanted to see how she ranks compared to the rest of Berlin. And then she invited me to brunch (this is really the only requirement in my life to get me to brunch… just an invitation), along with the other ladies from work.

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The excellent chef herself. Apparently she also does amazing cakes.

So, Taryn, Veronica, Kertu, Vanaja and Kelley (who is joining Robin as a serious brunchfluencer). Also, Anna’s husband was subtly sitting at the end of the table “working” (playing video games) and slowly consuming all the food that wasn’t eaten by the ladies at the table. Given how good Anna’s food was I’m not surprised at all.

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Veronica and Vanaja enjoying the rosé prosecco.

Although it’s not available to the general public, here’s Anna’s brunch!

Quality: 85 %

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The french toast.

Overall quality- Delicious. Really really delicious. The main was two-fold, first french toast (lovely) and second chorizo eggs. The french toast was well textured and had really good overall flavor. But what really stole the show were the salads. Watermelon, mint and goat cheese was particularly special, but the caprese was also quite nice.

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Watermelon, mint and goat cheese, my favorite salad of the summer so far.

Eggs- Solidly done, but could have been fluffier. The chorizo and peppers were a lovely touch.

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The eggs, baked with chorizo and peppers.

Dessert- Anna understands that breakfast dessert should be a thing and she nailed it. Fruit with yogurt and banana bread with maple syrup (that would rival Le Bon, my current favorite breakfast dessert).

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I didn’t get a photo of the banana bread, but these were delicious (Anna even made one lactose free for Kelley, it’s that attention to detail).

Beverages: 68.33 %

Here’s where she was hit the hardest. The coffee left most people disappointed.

However, the low scores from the coffee were partially balanced out by the really high quality rosé prosecco, and the lovely mimosas. There was 

Presentation: 85 %

Anna Killed it. The presentation was better than Mana and Weisse Villa combined. Seriously professional looking. 

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A lovely spread, the bread was homemade as well.

Diversity: 83.33 %

An amazing spread, especially for an at home brunch. It was almost to the level of a full on buffet, but didn’t have so many options that I felt too full. It was just right.

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The caprese salad, one of the many items that migrated to Adam’s end of the table to never return.

Ambiance: 81.92 %

The company was excellent, the table was massive and well laid, the lighting was natural and delightful. And the cook was amazing, as well as the company.

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Overall if you get this invite I highly recommend going.

Overall Score: 82.32 %

Price: FREE! Well, free for the guests.

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Wolfie was on loan for the weekend, and so he joined us. This “puppy” is actually a 13 year old pupper.

No Fire No Glory

Robin and I met up for brunch with no plans (this is abnormal for me). We attempted to go to a place that has rave reviews and has been on my radar for awhile. But like most places with rave reviews, it was busy. We arrived and were told that we wouldn’t even be seated for an hour. That was simply unacceptable, so we went across the street to No Fire No Glory, where we were seated right away (the place with the rave reviews we’ll go to sometime soon, so until then it shall remain nameless).

We were both in the mood for a relaxing and easy brunch and relaxing was what we got. However, we might have been served faster if we had just waited at the first place. In fact, the staff at No Fire No Glory might have actually been rushing the food in from somewhere else. It took over an hour after ordering for us to get food… which is a bit long, don’t you think?

However, the food is really quite tasty if you are willing to wait. On to the review!

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Our second choice for the morning: No Fire No Glory

Quality: 80 %

Overall quality- I really enjoyed my meal, salmon benedict, thoroughly. Robin liked his pancakes, but they suffered from 1) being too thin (4 pancakes for the thickness of 1) and 2) drowning in syrup. Seriously, it was approximately a 4 to 1 syrup to pancake ratio. Actually, now that you mention it, maybe they had enough syrup for normal sized pancakes, and then just made thin pancakes. At any rate, the ratio was way off.

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Syrup with pancakes! The ratio is noticeably off.

Eggs- Well cooked, perfectly poached. This is the 3rd set of perfectly poached eggs I found in Berlin (along with Common Grounds and Le Bon). Definitely a highlight.

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My dish was lovely! Surprisingly enough hollandaise.

Hollandaise sauce- One of these are true: the amount of hollandaise sauce was perfect of I’m beginning to get used to the amount that is doled out in Europe. Either way, this was delicious and well portioned.

Beverages: 92.5 %

There was no decaf coffee (BOOOO) and although chai tea was on the menu it turns out they didn’t make it in summer (BOOOOOOOOO). So we both got juices. They were delicious. A mango lassi type drink that wasn’t too thick and very flavorful, and a apple, carrot, ginger blend that reminded me of my favorite juice in my favorite cafe in Halle.

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Juice and “smoothie” that was very juice like. Both were delicious.

Presentation: 65 %

See about about the syrup tsunami that Robin faced. It’s hard to find things that are good looking when all you see is sticky syrup.

Please note: the syrup permeated everything including: reviews, table, napkins, and likely, my clothes for the next few washes.

Diversity: 57.5 %

Only three options, and we got the two good looking ones. It’s unlikely I’ll come back here anytime soon.

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This was the most comfortable chair I have sat in in a long LONG time. So much so I felt inspired to photograph it. It made the waiting 1 hour for our food more enjoyable.

Ambiance: 52.5 %

We sat outside, which was nice. The table was tiny and only 3 legged (for reduced stability), and the noise was low. But the real problem with this category is that the food took so long to get to us. Almost made brunch not worth it.

Overall Score: 73.44 %

Price: 16.00

 

Weisse Villa

I have a coworker (let’s call him: ze German) who Robin and I ran into on our way back from Roamers. He was surprised we brunch so often. We were surprised that he was also returning from brunch.

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Weisse Villa on a decidedly not sunny day.
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Mugglesee, my first Berlin lake experience! I’ll be back, hopefully in sunnier climates.

So he offered to have his down to where he lives for brunch. I assumed it was Schoenberg, or something similarly far away (I’m looking at you Mana). But no. It was much further. Apparently there are lakes around Berlin, and I say “apparently” because I haven’t been yet. Until now. Ze German lives near Mügglesee and so we went down and brunched at an old mansion type home right on the lake.

Kelley joined me, as well as my other coworker Sylvia and her SO Peter. Ze German brought his lovely lady friend and their beyond adorable pup Rudi.

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Sylvia inspecting the breakfast choices of her companion Peter.

Quality: 51.25 %

Overall quality- This is the most German brunch I have ever seen. It is a proper buffet, with deep fried things, lots of unidentifiable cheeses and meats and a plenty of bread. Lots and lots of bread. Again, similar to Mana, I am not in general a fan of buffets. Just because it’s all you can eat, doesn’t’ mean it’s all you should eat.

But if you’re into a hearty German breakfast, than this place is heaven. And judging by the many MANY people who were enjoying their Sunday brunch as well, it is heaven to many. Just not our crowd (expats, I tell you!)

Eggs- The mustard eggs were odd (I can’t really explain what happened there… ) but the scrambled eggs were surprisingly good! I haven’t had scrambled eggs at a buffet that were quite that good ever. Impressive!

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A very German brunch. The eggs are surprisingly good.

Dessert- This was unquestionably the best part of the meal. Really nice trifle, some decent rice milk (a surprising but delicious staple in Germany) and all sorts of other goodies I didn’t try. But it was a healthy spread and high quality.

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Not the most picturesque dessert, but it was definitely a delicious dessert.

Beverages: 54.17 %

The low score is largely driven by the coffee which took a quantity over quality approach. Sady, we are quality people so were less impressed with the large jug of terrible tasting coffee. But the sekt wasn’t terrible (also German, in case you haven’t caught on to the theme here…).

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German Sekt. It’s like prosseco, only very VERY German
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Expensive water and low quality/high quantity coffee.

Presentation: 66.25 %

Buffet. I’m going to start removing this category for buffets. The layout downstairs was really nice and fairly awe inspiring.

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Wiesse Villa from across the lake. The brewery next door is for sale for an absurdly low price, but you have to pay to fix it up… no thank you.

Diversity: 66.67 %

GOOD LORD WAS THERE A LOT OF DIFFERENT FOOD! But I think this actually falls into the category of too much food. This is a first for us.

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A very German brunch buffet. Possibly too many choices.

Ambiance: 80.87 %

By far the best part of this whole experience. The building was really nice, and had such a lovely sense of history. The table was large and excellent.

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Lovely ambiance, a lovely view, lovely companions. Almost makes up for the terrible food!

The view was of the water. Again, this was my first trip to a Berlin lake and it was simply wonderful.

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What a cool building. Whenever I’m in these kinds of places I can’t help but think what it would be like to live here.

But really the best was the company. Rudi was the perfect pupper, and the conversation and companions were excellent.

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The best dining companion, Rudi. He’s only 3, but was born an old man.

Even though it wasn’t really my cup of tea, I’d come back here for brunch. Not because the food was amazing, but the view and the company would bring me back. If ze German ever invites me again that is (hint, hint).

Overall Score: 62.49 %

Price: 18.5

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After brunch, Rudi took his people out for a walk. Good for digestion.
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He remained just ahead of us the whole time, but kept looking back to make sure we were keeping up.

Mana

As a rule of thumb, when someone wants to attend brunch for the first time I let the pick the place. So when my friend/colleague/verbal sparing partner Billo wanted to join, I let him pick the place.

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My brunch companion, Billo/PB/Tormund Giantsbane.

Unfortunately, he’s a vegan. Now. I’m not opposed to vegan food. As a life-long pescatarian I would be foolish to judge other peoples’ food choices. However, for brunch, I really like eggs, and to revel in a bit of cheese. So, I was skeptical when he picked a vegan locale.

Moreover, it was a buffet. Please raise your hand if you’ve ever walked away from a buffet thinking “I feel really good about myself right now”… exactly. Just because a buffet is all you CAN eat, doesn’t mean it’s all you SHOULD eat. 

But, it was surprisingly good. Don’t think I’ll be making the trek to Schöneberg anytime soon for a repeat performance (unless my favorite ginger vegan invites me again), but it was surprisingly not terrible!

Quality: 72.5

Like all buffets, it was a matter of adjusting the items on your plate to maximize the number of things to try, while blending them all together to make a cohesive meal. Normally, this balance and portion appointment is done by the chef. But the food was worth the extra effort (it was really quite good!).

The croissants really stole the show. They were amazing, some of the best I’ve had in Germany, and somehow made without butter.

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Dessert is becoming my favorite part of brunch. This one was especially good.

Breakfast dessert:

This was by far the best part of the meal, a mango/chia seed pudding. I have recently fallen in love with chia seed nonsense, and this did nothing to dissuade me of that notion.

Smoothie:

The buffet includes a smoothie, which I’m totally on board with. And it was delightful, which I’m even more on board with!

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All you can eat + smoothies. I like your style Mana.

Coffee: 65

Decaf coffee (👏) is delightful! Made with almond milk, which made for great taste but poor texture. But Billo claims the coffee there is usually pretty good! So… we’ll have to grade on a bit of a curve here.

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I liked the flavor of almond milk, but just hate the texture.

Diversity: 80

Lots of options, not many of them looked amazing. However, note my surprise about the taste above.

Presentation: 40

It was a buffet. I would never put it on instagram.

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Not the prettiest looking plate. But again: buffet

Ambiance: 76.25

They were a little misguided about their lighting scheme, which made the interior darker and danker than it needed to be. Not ideal for brunch, but I could see how it would be a good “intimate dinner” location. It was also fairly loud. Neither Billo, nor I, are quiet people, but we had trouble hearing each other. The table was lovely, with very little flair, just the way I like it.

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These were the only lights. Which was just plain odd.

Overall Score: 68.91

Price: 16.75

 

Karaca Coffee

This is not a real post, mostly because Karaca Coffee is not a real place to go to brunch. It’s a coffee shop, and there are brunches on the menu (debatable), but it’s not really their forte.

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It did not feel like we were in a forest. Not even a little.

Instead, this post is more about terrible news. Ben and Asta have now relocated, permanently, to Copenhagen. As a supportive friend, I helped them pack up their house, load the whole thing into a moving van, and then cleaned up in their wake. But as a fellow bruncher, I will miss them both terribly.

I was not alone in aiding Ben and Asat in their hour of need, both Leo and Robin came along. This was especially a sacrifice for Robin, who, as we know, hates waking up early on the weekend. I got a play by play of his journey from Friedrischain to Mitte and let me tell you: he was DRIVING the struggle bus.

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Seriously would be a cute place to work. Not a cute place to brunch though.

After we packed all of Asta and Ben’s possessions into a moving van, we retired to eat a bit and drink a bit of coffee (it was still pretty early, for people who like to sleep in at least).

We had coffee. We rested our weary arms. We half-heartedly collected data. But mostly we lamented the loss of our brunch buddies. 

Quality: 20

Overall quality-  I couldn’t finish my scone. And that’s after spending hours moving things up and down stairs and into a moving van. Still wasn’t good enough to finish.

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The key part of this meal was the iced chai. Emphasis on “iced”

Beverages: 67.5

The iced chai was really quite good! It was still too sweet for Robin (who’s sugar requirements are… picky), but let’s be real here. We’re not going to win that fight. Especially with an early morning wake up.

Diversity: 38.33 

None. There were 3 things on the menu, and they were all three a variety of each other

Presentation:  60.83

Meh. Nothing to write home about.

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Robin stongly objected to the black plastic trays.

Ambiance: 77.5

These might have been the most comfortable chairs in the entire world. These chairs were made from angel wings of happiness, meant to coddle people for the remainder of their days. These chairs were heaven (did I mention we were all tired?). But the rest was typical coffee shop outfit. Again, good for the moment, not great for brunch.  

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Early morning + moving 2 people + long week = cranky Robin. The comfortableness of the chairs helped a lot though.

Overall Score: 54.03

Price: 11

 

Shakespeare and Sons

I have often contemplated the desert island question: if I was stuck on a desert island for the rest of my life what would I take with me? What book could I read every day without being sick of it? What movie? What food could I eat every day?

The answer to that last question has never varied. I am a bagels and cream cheese kind of girl. There have actually been points in my life where I’ve eaten bagels 2-3 times a day (looking at you, preliminary exams).

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My desert island food!

As a result, my standards for good bagels are HIGH and Germany has almost continually disappointed. Until now.

Saturday morning Ben and I were slightly hung over, and yet, got out of bed and ventured to Friedrichshain. While we debated at various points during the meal whether we could consider bagels to be brunch. We ultimately decided that either way, we would happily come back for more.

Quality: 86.25 %

Overall quality- These were damn good bagels. Ben opted for something sweet (which was delicious) and I went for the lox bagel combo (which was also delicious). Both of them were generous with the cheese, and had a delicious blend of flavors. Ben loved the goat cheese, remarking that it melted in his mouth.

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Not the prettiest meal, but boy was it tasty.

Dessert- Ok, we’re making this a thing full time now. It really is the best way to end a brunch! However, unlike the last few meals, where desert was a highlight (Le Bon, Roamers), our cinnamon roll was not what we were looking for. Lesson learned, we’ll order something else next time.

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Not what we were expecting (hence, the low score).

Beverages: 80 %

DECAF COFFEE!!! I had a delicious iced coffee and Ben had his usual flat white. Both were acceptable.

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Delicate and delicious iced coffee.

Not a breakfast cocktail in the place (which for this morning was fine… see the part about how we’re both slightly hungover), but I think at any other time would bother me.

Presentation: 65 %

This is what really drove down the overall score. It made me reconsider even having this category, because the food was really really good. However, it does bring us back to that age old question (and by “age old” I mean we just started talking about it in this blog post): are bagels brunch. The general lack of decent plating suggests… no.

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Goat cheese that melts in your mouth.

Diversity: 80 %

Ok, what is the difference between regular cream cheese and fancy cream cheese? If you cut out one of them, then the menu drastically narrows. But, the items on the menu look great (mostly bagels), and there is enough variety to keep me interested (no small feat).
Ambiance: 76.25 %

We had a table outside which was delightful. The noise level was really low, especially given that we were on a main street (maybe because . And the food took WAY too long, especially given it was just preparing two bagels, not painting the Mona Lisa.

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I didn’t mention how much I wanted to peruse the bookstore. However, given that I was physically incapable of doing so today, just know I’ll be back.

But overall, this might become one of my favorite Saturday morning “not quite brunch” spots!

Overall Score: 80.78 %

Price: 10.75