>> Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Nothing beats a local, neighborhood restaurant where the owners know the neighborhood, know the guests, and consistently dish out fantastic food.
If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you would know that Muqueca, a (formerly tiny) Brazilian seafood restaurant, is one of my favorite restaurants in the Boston area. Why do I say "formerly" tiny? Well, since my last post about Muqueca, which was only about a year ago, Muqueca has moved into a larger space down the street.
In some ways, this is a welcomed relief. The biggest limitation of the old restaurant was always the tiny space, which translated to looooong waits for a table. The bigger restaurant can accommodate so many more guests and the food is still just as good. Better yet, the new place has a liquor license as well.
However, in other ways, it's bittersweet because I'll miss that old space. That tight space made it cozy and intimate. Visiting Muqueca was like visiting a Brazilian family and having them cook a fabulous meal for you. The new place just isn't quite the same.
Well guess what? You might just have a chance to visit that old space again and relive some of the nostalgia.
Less than a month ago, Bom Cafe opened in the old Muqueca space. You'll feel right at home here because Bom Cafe is owned by the same folks who own Muqueca. They've repainted the space and opened it up a bit, so it feels much brighter and much more airy. Other than that, it feels a lot like the old Muqueca.
Antonio and Fatima (Fafa) Gomes own both Muqueca and Cafe Bom. Antonio holds down the fort at the cafe while Fafa watches over Muqueca. When the cafe closes in the late afternoon, Antonio heads over to Muqueca to help out.
Antonio Gomes making a cappuccino at the cafe
I asked Antonio, "why did you decide to open a cafe in this spot?"
"Because I wanted one in the neighborhood."
Now that's a true neighborhood cafe! If only I could just build my dream cafe down the street from my home because I wanted one. Antonio made me a lovely cappuccino as he told us a little about the cafe. He gets up early every morning to bake everything from scratch. It's just him and his one helper right now, although they hope to hire more people soon.
For now, he's started out with a small, simple menu, although he hopes to expand it soon. He dreams about providing other simple grocery items for the neighborhood, like fresh baguettes.
One of my favorite items on the menu is the cheese bread. If you've never had Brazilian cheese bread, you have got to try this stuff. It's cheesy, chewy, and absolutely delicious. The texture almost reminds me of mochi in some ways, which might explain why I like it so much.
The passion fruit muffins are also packed with genuine fruit flavor. I'd never tried anything like it before, and I was wowed by the sweet and tart "zing" of the strong passion fruit flavor. It's even got passion fruit seeds strewn throughout! If you like softer muffins, I would get a large muffin. The mini muffins are purposely baked to be a bit harder for people who like to dunk them in their coffees. I wouldn't advise eating it alone - it's a bit hard!
As I mentioned earlier, the cafe menu is simple right now, with just omelets and sandwiches as savory choices. Of course, everything has a slightly Brazilian bent, which makes this place so much fun!
We ordered an omelet with ham, peppers, and palmitos (palm hearts). The omelet was quite enjoyable and came with a side of boiled yucca and bread. The boiled yucca was fine, although we preferred the deep fried yucca fries we tried before at Muqueca (ha ha, who wouldn't like a fried version more?).
We also tried a linguica (Brazilian sausage) sandwich, which came with sauteed onions and peppers. The sandwich was fine - nothing fancy, but it was good. It came with a side of potato chips.
They also have fresh fruit smoothies which are fun to try. I decided to try the most interesting thing on the menu - cashew fruit drink! The fruit of a cashew plant is pear-shaped and very juicy (you can see it in the painting above on the left most side next to the papaya). Unfortunately, its skin is super fragile, so it's quite difficult to transport the fresh fruit to the US from Brazil. Instead, it either comes frozen or as a concentrate.
I tried the cashew juice (from concentrate right now because it's not in season yet) and I loved it! It's light, slightly tart, not too sweet, and just really refreshing.
I had a lot of fun hanging out at Bom Cafe. Antonio is really friendly, and he was really generous in giving us little tastes of his baked goods. It's too bad Bom Cafe is not closer to my home. I would love to have that exact sort of intimate and friendly neighborhood cafe right down the street.
Definitely stop by for a baked good, a cappuccino, or smoothie. There's plenty of space to sit now, and the space is bright and friendly.
Don't miss the cheese bread!