The Spice is Right

Attracting the young the, the old, and the in betweens, Sofra Bakery and Café boasts an atmosphere of eclectic visitors.  Sofra’s food is as eclectic and diverse as the people it attracts.  Handwritten menus detail the array of Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern influenced dishes like spinach falafel with beet tzatziki, or Turkish breakfast with poached eggs, tomato, curry, and pita.  Looking for a lighter fare?  Choose up to five spreads, hummus or legume salads from the mezze bar.  The bakery also offers a sweet assortment of Lebanese, Turkish, and Greek pastries, from chocolate hazelnut baklava to pistachio olive oil cake and milk chocolate tahini bites.

While you’re waiting for your order, sip down an espresso shot-sized cup of Sofra’s delicious Turkish coffee.  This caffeine concoction is, however, a misnomer because what the menu doesn’t tell you about this “coffee” is that it’s actually a sludgy cup of aromatic mud.  Coffee grounds are brewed in the water, sans filter, so this astonishingly potent brew is best drunk quickly or you’re left with an even more viscous helping of sludge at the bottom.  If you’re a coffee connoisseur, and swear that coffee is truest when drunk black, you will fall in love with this dark, buzz-igniting batter.

The café is bustling and energetic.  A constant line snakes around a granite and wood island whose shelves are home to rows of Turkish, Arabian, and even Hawaiian spices for purchase. Behind the cash register, the kitchen is fully exposed.  Two waist-high metal convex drums used for making and warming flatbreads stand front and center in the busy yet collected kitchen.  Local and imported ingredients for sale line the shelves around the rest of the café. Go home with Italian heirloom controne beans, French olive oils, or local eggs from the owner’s farm.  The head chef, Ana Sortun, and her husband own a 50-acre farm in the Sudbury River Valley, as well as the Cambridge restaurant, Oleana.  They sell the farm’s bounty at the Copley farmer’s market in the summer, and feature their fresh vegetables in dishes at both restaurants year-round.

After your epic awakening from a caffeine buzz, slouch over your inconveniently short, knee-high table, and enjoy a tantalizing meal.   A recent trip lead friend, H, and I to order our “usual”: the egg sandwich with bacon and haloumi cheese, and homemade olive oil granola with labne yogurt and local honey.  This twist on the classic American breakfast sandwich will put you in a daze; the bun is small but packs heat as it’s glazed then sprinkled with spicy chili flakes.  Mine and H’s favorite part about this sandwich however isn’t the crispy, paper-thin slice of pancetta, the always perfectly-runny, farm-fresh eggs, but the salty hunk of haloumi that literally squeaks as you bite through the layers.  We each take long, indulgent bites for the mere pleasure of hearing and feeling that unusual “eek eek”.

The granola is equally satisfying—toasty and packed with warm flavors of cinnamon and sesame.  The yogurt is thick like frozen yogurt and tart in flavor offset by the sweet honey drizzle.  You can buy packages of the addictive granola to indulge in every morning…afternoon…or even dessert.

Try something new off the menu on each visit to Sofra and you will surely expand your palate.  As the place is consistently packed, be sure to stake your claim at a seat when you first arrive at this busy and humming, spice-laden lair.

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2 Responses to The Spice is Right

  1. Heidi McLean says:

    My mouth waters for the stunning Sofra salads and confections, thanks to your words of description.

  2. Rousie-Unicorn says:

    You better take me in a week! The pics are FAB!

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