Much like Hart feels a strong degree of loyalty to the Parisian establishment where he spends his time, I have a deep allegiance to the Espressoria. Its considerable virtues include consistently friendly service with a smile and an endearingly ramshackle interior. Original paintings, mismatched chairs and the vintage ’50s formica and chrome tables give it a livedin, comfortable appeal. In the back, there’s a sprawling patio providing a serene and sunny oasis.
On a recent mid-morning visit, friends Lisa and Diane sampled a variety of beverages and light victuals here. The fairtrade organic coffee is consistently full-bodied with subtly spicy tones. My large $3.45 latte and Lisa’s $2.95 cappuccino were properly frothy with the right balance of dairy and potent java. Other beverages include iced teas — I’m partial to the berry-infused ones — as well as chai and soft drinks, including Paonia apple cider and Mexican Cokes.
Like most coffee shops, the Espressoria serves up baked goods prepared elsewhere. Lisa’s $2.50 bran muffin, prepared off-site, was no different than what you’d pick up anywhere else, save for its particularly fibrous qualities. But to judge this café strictly on this muffin misses the point, as it distinguishes itself from the competition by dishing out many specialties baked on site.
For example, the $2.50 banana bread was an exemplar of home-baked goodness. Still a touch warm, this was everything this staple ought to be, moist with a cake-like sweetness that wasn’t too overpowering. The addition of chocolate chips didn’t hurt, either. Multiple quiches are available every day, and Diane’s $4 house-made custard was another worthy choice. This example spotlighted the tangy tones of sun-dried tomato, which balanced out the filling’s overall richness. Texture is key for quiche, and happily the crust possessed a marvelously buttery quality, while the custard was delicately eggy.
Sadly, they were out of lox, so I wasn’t able to order the $6 bagel plate. This is one of the better local interpretations of this deli classic, which features bagels from Big Daddy’s. My back-up choice was the $5.95 pesto turkey sandwich, which had a nice smear of basil sauce on decent whole-grain bread. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t as decadent as the lox bagel.
2116 Pearl St., Boulder 303-247-0124
I returned in the afternoon for my favored midday pick-me-up, the $1.50 chocolate chip cookies, fresh from the oven. Still warm, these were enticingly plump treats, dripping with buttery flavor and tantalizingly melted chocolate chips, served straight off the cookie sheet. These addictive baked goods are as good as you’ll find anywhere, and compare favorably with most homemade versions.
Stick to the coffee and the house-made baked goods here and you’ll have a first-rate experience. The cookies, muffins and scones are as good, if not better than, bakery products. This is the stuff loyalty is made of, and as Hart would appreciate, these items make it awfully hard to find an alternative to the Espressoria.
Clay’s Obscurity Corner
Crush basil by handThe pesto on my sandwich inspired me to make a batch of this Italian basil sauce at home. But rather than using a blender, I decided to try my luck making this classic with a mortar and pestle. It’s certainly more time-consuming to mash garlic, salt and pine nuts into a fine paste before crushing torn basil leaves, but the effort is worth it. Crushing the leaves releases more of the herb’s oil, which makes for a more fragrant sauce. When tossed with pasta, this version doesn’t turn everything green, but rather dots the noodles with appealing flecks of basil.