By Elly Hu, Staff Writer
Let’s be honest: how many times have you been to Starbucks or Dunkin’ this week? For the past month? Have you ever been anywhere other than these nationwide coffeehouse chains for your daily fix of caffeine and baked goods?
If you answered “no” to the last question, prepare yourself — this column may change you.
Don’t get me wrong — I’ll be the first to admit my loyalty to Starbucks: they’re conveniently (or rather, strategically) placed all over campus and their deliciously overpriced selection of food and drinks are reliable. But before you fall back to your habits and resort back to your triple shot salted caramel light frappuccino and processed pumpkin bread, you’ll think twice, ’cause I am about to enlighten you.
My mission? To give you a selection of Boston’s local, one-of-a-kind gems that people seldom talk about.
*Disclaimer: I am not a food critic or have a particular sense for feng shui and interior design; however, I do know that food and atmosphere play a big role in first impressions. A memorable experience will surely guarantee a second visit.
Location 1: Tatte Fine Cookies & Cakes (1003 Beacon St. Brookline, Mass.)
For those of you who are new to BU (or perhaps those of you who have not strayed past Comm Ave), you may have wondered, what is there past the St. Mary’s Bridge? Besides the university’s South campus residences, Boston’s residential Brookline neighborhood is also located there. Brookline most recently made Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live Ranking,” being described as “a swanky and hip suburb of Boston . . . . Filled with cool boutiques and ethnic restaurants.” This suburb might seem dull to a university student, but Tatte might prove you wrong.
Tatte Fine Cookies & Cakes opened its first store in Brookline in 2007 and its popularity followed with two more locations that have opened in Cambridge, with a fourth slated to open in Beacon Hill this fall. Since its start, Tatte has not only been featured in local prints such as The Boston Globe, Boston Magazine and Edible Boston, but also in national publications like Bon Appétit, The New York Times, Martha Stewart (twice!), Simple Living and more. It was ranked number two in a BuzzFeed article titled “25 Bakeries Around the World You Have to See Before You Die.” The store has even collaborated with popular gourmet kitchenware store Williams-Sonoma to ship their pastries outside of Boston.
As a self-proclaimed enthusiast in all things charming, local and tasty, Tatte is pretty much a 10/10. Its attention to detail, from the interior design of the store to the artful selection of food, is what gets me coming back every time.
Walking through the door, you might notice the crystal chandelier in the center of the room, surrounded by the rustic homestyle interior design. A large wooden table displays Tatte’s signature box tarts as well as glass cake stands with an assortment of coffee cakes sold by the slice. A vintage-looking fridge stands behind it displaying an assortment of fruit tarts, dessert cups and whole cakes decorated with a careful attention to detail. The walls are decorated with chalkboard menus framed with wood. It feels as if you’re not in Brookline anymore, but a quaint café on a European vacation.
While the store may seem tiny inside in comparison to other cafés along Comm Ave, the store’s size is perfect for its neighborhood location. It seats just enough for people to enjoy the bakery’s selection of sweet treats or the kitchen’s signature sandwiches and salads. On warmer days, the space outside the store has small tables and chairs arranged perfectly to soak some sun or to people-watch.
What I ordered: I ordered a blueberry clafouti (a round tart with soft, flan-like filling topped with blueberries and coarse sugar) and a mug of coffee to accompany it. Served on a sweet floral trimmed plate, it was the perfect treat to follow an otherwise typical Wednesday afternoon.