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On The Town: Brunch at Tatte Bakery & Cafe

PicFrameWhile you never want a good weekend to end, a delightful brunch always helps close out several days of leisure on a high note. Inspired by my dear friend G who was visiting, we decided to try Tatte Bakery & Cafe in Kendall Square. It’s been on my radar for some time and after a delightful meal, I’m a little ashamed that I haven’t come sooner.

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Coffee Art: Tomtom in Belgravia, London

IMG_0146One of the (many, many) things I enjoy about London is when I order a cappuccino and a work of art arrives. The cappuccino in the photo is from the Tomtom Coffee House in Belgravia. A dear friend who knows all of the best cafes in the area brought me there and it’s lovely. In addition to being a charming coffee shop with indoor and outdoor seating, Tomtom has a full menu. In a unique twist, Tomtom also specializes in cigars and has a shop around the corner dedicated to selling them.

However, what really got me about Tomtom was the delicious cappuccino that I almost didn’t want to drink because it was so pretty. But, let’s be real, that didn’t last very long.

Tomtom Coffee House is located at 114 Ebury Street in Belgravia, London.


The South End Buttery: The Little Cafe That Could (and Does!)

South End Buttery by Don't Wake Me, I Plan On Sleeping from Flickr

Casually cool with amazing sandwiches and pastries, the South End Buttery is exactly the kind of place you want to live within walking distance of.  Tucked into a quaint area of the South End filled with posh brownstone walk-ups and hip furniture stores, this neighborhood gem is open from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily, allowing ample opportunity to satisfy cravings on a whim.

Upon entry to the restaurant, step into the bustling cafe space with cheerful yellow walls and a display case filled with pastries worth salivating over.  Though there are two quieter rooms, I prefer sitting in the main room, which gets fantastic natural light and presents a constant stream of Bostonians for people watching.  On a nice day, try and snag a seat on the tiny outdoor patio, which is pet-friendly.

While I’ve never been for dinner, I have tried – and loved – their plain croissant, pecan sticky bun and seven layer bar.  Their iced coffee is lovely, but fair warning – the large size is huge!  The sandwiches are truly the star of the show here, especially the Curried Chicken Salad, which is worth every deliciously messy bite.

Though the South End Buttery has many high points, I wish that they also made their salads to order instead of having them available at the takeaway counter.  I’m guessing that this is only a lunchtime issue, but after seeing the delicious made to order sandwiches arrive at our table, I would have swooned over a more innovative salad menu.

The South End Buttery is located at 314 Shawmut Avenue at the corner of Union Park in the South End.  For more information, please visit their website:


Boston Cafe Etiquette – Sharing a Table with a Stranger

Breakfast Cafe by su-lin from Flickr

Only in the most dire of circumstances should you ask if you can share a table with a stranger. In other countries, it is completely common for others to take up empty seats at your table (even in a restaurant- it happened to me every day in India), often without even asking. But throughout the U.S., the sense of personal space is very strong and extends in a rather wide bubbble. In Boston, that bubble most certainly consumes any empty seats at their table, and probably any standing room near it too!

If someone is at a table by themselves and there are no other seats available, I would usually say that you are out of luck. If you do decide to be brave and interrupt a single cafe goer immersed in their work/reading/facebooking, don’t commit any of these etiquette faux pas:

•    Obtain the free seat by trickery. The other day a girl asked me if I was using the free seat at my table (which was, at the time, occupied by my coat) or if I was waiting for someone. I dutifully removed my items from the seat and then she sat down. With me. At my table. Without being clear about her purpose. There isn’t even an option to say no in that situation, but you can be pretty sure the other party won’t be very happy about it.

•    Be rude to the person who allowed you to sit at their table. If you have asked someone if you can sit at their table, you are giving them the right to ask you to leave or generally not to do other things that bother them. Don’t talk loudly on your cellphone, work in irritating (there’s that personal space bubble again) proximity to them, or talk back to them if they ask you to stop taking up so much space. The manager will almost positively side with whoever had the table first, particularly if that person is a frequent customer (believe me, I spoke to him when I had my squatter incident the other day).

•    Take up excessive (or really any) space at the table. If someone has agreed to let you use their extra chair, don’t abuse their politeness by getting in their way or practically pushing their things off the table with your laptop, coffee, scone, and four textbooks.

•    Chat up the person. If the person you have sat with is by him or herself, they are probably doing something, and you should not abuse their hospitality by badgering them with pointless small talk or get to know you questions. If they decide to talk to you…well, that is the price you pay for sitting at their table.

Most importantly, thank the person when you leave. I offered a seat at my table to someone else who had been waiting along time when I was lucky enough to snag a table and he was polite throughout and very thankful when he left. It *almost* made me thinking sharing a table with a stranger isn’t so bad after all.

Gabi Logan is a Boston-based food and travel writer. On the web, you can find her recommendations for affordable yet delicious food in Boston at the Examiner and The 30 Minute Dinner Party.