Monday, December 31, 2012

Dining Out: Ball Square Cafe

Before I dive into this review I want to say Happy New Year everyone! I hope you are celebrating tonight with family and friends and plenty of bubbly. I'll be hosting a dinner party at my house. I plan to be full and happy when the ball drops. 

Later this week be sure to come back on Friday January 4th when Pop.Bop.Shop. will be celebrating its golden birthday - 4 years old on the 4th! I have some big, sparkly surprises in store for you. 

Ok, on to the review!

When I first graduated from college I lived in Inman Square, but most of my friends lived two squares away in Davis. As they got to know their Somerville neighborhood they learned of a great rivalry. A rivalry between two epic brunch places that happen to be next door neighbors.

The battle for brunch wages every weekend on Broadway in Ball Square between Sound Bites and Ball Square Cafe. The story goes that the two owners once got so heated they actually had a fist fight out front.

My friends had always been loyal to Sound Bites, so that's where I always went. Recently a friend moved into Ball Square and she fell in love with Ball Square Cafe. She sang its praises and insisted I come check it out.

We went this past Friday morning and since it was a work day there was no line. I took a photo out front for people to see a rarity - not a single body out front. If you've ever driven through Ball Square on the weekends you know what I'm talking about. There is always a line, at least 10 people deep outside both cafes.

Inside, Ball Square Cafe is very simply decorated. Most tables are for two or for four. We got a table right away in the back right corner.

The Ball Square Cafe menu is enormous and it tempts you even further by adding photos to each section.

At any point during your visit you can walk up to the self-serve coffee and tea station in the back left corner of the restaurant. They have all kinds of coffee and an insane selection of teas. I went with the vanilla bean which tasted and smelled heavenly.

Since I'd been waiting years to understand what all the Ball Square Cafe fuss is about, I decided we needed to go big. We each ordered a savory item and then chose two sweet items to share. I wanted to get the full experience.

My friend ordered her weekly usual - an egg and cheese sandwich with turkey bacon on a croissant. Then she said, "Ok, write all this down. I want to tell you and all your readers why I love this sandwich so much." She said it was such conviction, of course I obeyed.

"I love this sandwich, one, because it's cheap. It's a complete indulgence. It's so buttery. This is the best turkey bacon I've ever had in a restaurant. It's cut thick and it's just so much more than you could ever get in a grocery store." Well there you have it folks!

I went with the Athenian omelet which was feta cheese, diced tomatoes and spinach. The omelet was huge and packed with goodies. It comes with your choice of potatoes and bread. I went with a whole wheat English muffin and the house specialty - Omar's grilled mashed potatoes. The potatoes were insanely delicious. Like Thanksgiving mashed potatoes, but with more garlic.

For our two sweet items, we knew we wanted one to be French toast. There was a French toast special that sounded amazing - blueberries and marscapone - but they were sold out! Our second choice was the nutella and banana stuffed French toast. When we ordered it, our waitress asked if we'd like it topped with powdered sugar or whipped cream. Both please!

We got a half order (two slices instead of four) which was definitely the right move because it was so rich. I was afraid it might taste too chocolately, but it was actually just right and one piece per person was perfect.

We also ordered one chocolate chip pancake (we decided to go with just sugar for that one) and it was amazing! The chocolate was melted and gooey and added a blissful sweetness to the light, puffy pancake. We never even added syrup.

I appreciate that Ball Square Cafe lets you do half orders (including French toast, pancakes and eggs benedict) because sometimes you just want a little of something. As Carrie Bradshaw once said, "Sometimes a girl just needs a half."

In addition to our feast itself, we also had the most pleasant dining experience. Fellow diners were friendly and offering recommendations on specials they had already sampled. The owner is like the mayor of Somerville. Every other customer he was hugging, showing them to a table, asking about their holiday. He really is a well known figure in the community.

Best of all, after all the things we enjoyed, our tab only came to $27.98. I am not normally a person who cares about spending on a meal (we know this) but that is incredible value.

Now that I've eaten at both places, I want to know: Which cafe do you stand in line for?

4 comments:

  1. I am embarrassed to admit that I have lived in Somerville for 6 years and have never been here. I guess I should get to it!

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  2. I've actually always found Ball Square Cafe to be more inviting. The menues between the two places are very similar so I always go for the one where they don't rush you out as quickly. Ball Square Cafe all the way!

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  3. DIE HARD Ball Square junkie, all the way. The chef WAS the chef at Sound Bites, hence the fisticuffs many years ago.

    Still, Mike is great at BS, the food is amazing, and I'm totally in agreement with your friend's recommendation on the croissanwich, except I go with sausage instead of turkey bacon. And the garlic mashed? Best part of the entire meal!

    Oh, and on really cold winter days, Mike hands out mini hot chocolates to his patrons waiting outside. Plus he installed heat lamps for us - how can you beat that? You can't.

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  4. I just went there this weekend. Your order looks great. This is what I ordered: http://soundofcharm.blogspot.com/2013/03/ball-square-cafe-somerville.html

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