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Thursday, November 3,2011

More than a coffee shop

By Clay Fong

The first impression of downtown Boulder’s Saxy’s Cafe is that of your typical college town coffee shop with a ramshackle, slightly lived-in feel. But a closer look reveals more luxurious trappings epitomized by comfortable sofas and low coffee tables that give the spot a cozy living room ambience. Low-key, if not folksy, music plays on the stereo, deepening the mellow coffeehouse vibe. Folks engaging in quiet conversation enhance the feeling of serenity, and it would be all too easy to hide among the cushions and take a discreet nap after lunch.

Of course, one can also take a meal at the high-top tables, and there’s a decent menu to do just that. It includes bagels, pastries and breakfast pressed sandwiches like the Fast Start, featuring egg and smoked salmon. Additional offerings include vegetarian as well as prosciutto panini and entrée salads featuring such ingredients as turkey, goat cheese and intriguing dressings exemplified by the maple balsamic vinaigrette.

In addition to the obligatory complement of espresso beverages, there are several soft drinks, including GUS sodas at $2.08 a bottle. GUS stands for “Grown Up Sodas,” and I’ve grown fond of these beverages since they are about half as sweet as a typical soda, with subtly dry flavors. I opted for a ginger ale, which was predictably refreshing. Since this is a coffee shop, I also felt compelled to sample a $1.61 Americano made with Ink! Coffee, roasted in Aspen. It was both full-bodied and smooth in taste with adding cream or sugar.

Friend Amanda and I ordered lunchtime sandwiches, each of which came accompanied by an appetizing mix of fresh baby greens with artichoke heart and home-style vinaigrette. When the server brought our selections to the table, the artful presentation of sandwich and greens was closer to what one would expect in a sit-down restaurant versus a coffee shop.

Amanda thoroughly enjoyed her $8.30 Panino al Tonno, or tuna panini, which featured albacore and capers. Arugula and tomato transformed this sandwich into something resembling a well-executed warm salad nicoise on bread, although the generous helping of fish made this a heartier choice. The foccacia was pressed and toasted to perfection, with a crisp, golden exterior. Amanda felt this was among the best tuna sandwiches she’s ever had, and I had to concur.

My selection was the $8.99 Panino alla Bresaola. According to the menu, Bresaola is an air-cured filet. On the sandwich, this salumi variant manifested itself as lean beef texturally similar to hard salami but without the assertive flavor of its porcine counterpart. While its delicate taste was appreciated, it was drowned out by copious amounts of Buffalo mozzarella and the honeyed sweetness of fig and pear. I enjoyed these adornments, but it made me wonder if the sandwich would have been more successful without the beef and instead presented as a deluxe grilled cheese.

The quality of the food here, as indicated by the sandwiches, exceeds the prepackaged or grab-and-go nature of the fare at lesser coffee shops. The java is also decent, which is no small feat in a caffeine-addled town such as Boulder. Lastly, the fare is comparable quality-wise to a full-tilt restaurant, which only helps enhance Saxy’s strength as a tranquil retreat from the bustle of Pearl Street just a few feet away.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

Saxy’s Cafe
2018 10th St. Boulder 303-786-8585

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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