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Coming Soon: 2nd Cup Cafe, Allston

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On our way to a lovely (albeit noisy) dinner at Carlo's Cucina on Brighton tonight, Allstonian and I walked past a brand new but nearly complete coffeehouse called the 2nd Cup Cafe (that's how all the promo material in the window has it, so there you go) at 111 Brighton Ave. To set the scene, there's that little bodega on the corner of Brighton and Linden that's been there forever, then New Trend Eatery, then Punjab Palace, then this place, then that pretentious little boutique that's always empty, then the empty storefront that I think used to be the Indian video store (which itself has a construction permit in the window) and then the cruddy little laundromat. If I'm remembering the old block correctly, I believe this was where Ed "Moose" Savage (local legend and former leader of the best-named band in the history of Boston, Ed "Moose" Savage and his Litany of Complaints) had his little antique shop that he's moved up to the North Shore.

Looks to be your standard slightly upscale coffee place, lots of blond wood and black leatherette benches. You just know there's gonna be wi-fi. I noticed on our way back (when there were workers installing things and the windows were open) that there's a little kitchen in the back, so I'm thinking there may be light nibbles on the menu as well.

Here's the thing: this neighborhood has been positively ACHING for a place like this for ages -- we don't even have a Starbucks anymore since that one in the Packards Corner Shaws went out -- but that means there's the double-edged sword that if it's any good at all, this place is gonna be a frickin' madhouse.

Anyone heard any buzz? Given the name, I wonder if maybe there might be some familiar local coffee names behind it. Actually, what the name really reminds me of the Second Cup, a coffee chain I really like in Toronto. I wonder if I asked nicely if they would add butter tarts to the menu...

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  1. Have you tried the cafe on Harvard Ave? The one that serves terroir coffee -- I think it's called Harvard Ave Cafe but could be wrong,

    7 Replies
    1. re: limster

      Just behind the McDonald's? The space that's been, like four different things in the last two years? No, I haven't gone in there, but the Terroir is a point in its favor. Thanks!

      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

        Hope you have a chance to try it soon, would love to hear your thoughts on it.

        1. re: limster

          I've been there a few times and gotten fairly good but not go out of my way for it coffee. Usually better than Starbucks though, without the charbucks taste I dislike so much there. They apparently brew limited batches to keep it fresh (or to minimize wasted coffee costs, or both), since a few times too often when I've stopped in or they've been out of the option I wanted even though it was one of the day's listings. So at least it won't be stale. I don't think the coffee has been consistent tasting each time, so there may be some difference in how some of the pleasant, but not on the whole highly motivated staff makes it, which might be behind my don't go out of my way overall impression. Nice selection of sweets to go with it, never tried the sandwiches and in fairness not many of the sweets as I don't have a huge sweet tooth. And it's a good for people looking for a place to sit undisturbed for a while while getting some decent coffee. Has Wifi.

        2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

          Herrell's is like a block away. I guess the neighborhood is positively *aching* for gentrification.

          1. re: blackcoffee

            Herrell's coffee is awful and overpriced, the seats are uncomfortable, the room is noisy and the food is a joke. Frankly, even the ice cream isn't any good anymore. I haven't been back since I gently pointed out to an employee that someone had really messed up a batch of chocolate ice cream (it had NO sugar in it whatsoever, it was literally just cream, milk and unsweetened cocoa) and got a cow-like blank stare of incomprehension in return. Not even an insincere apology, but simply an inability to comprehend that maybe the customers wouldn't want to eat chocolate ice cream that someone had forgotten to put the sugar in.

            So...perhaps what I should have said was "Man, my neighborhood could really use a coffee house that doesn't flat-out suck!"

            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

              I had a fantastic breakfast at Herrell's the other day: a mini egg sandwich (perfect toast, perfect scrambled egg, pepper jack cheese, less than $3), banana ice cream, and cookie dough ice cream. The ice cream has a bit more of an ice crystal structure than Tosci's, but it's of the consistent and smooth variety, so I didn't really mind. After a few bad experiences at Tosci's in the last few months (really inedible icy patches) I'm not sure where to turn for really reliable ice cream in the area. Christina's maybe.

              1. re: Luther

                I've always enjoyed the breakfasts there, actually, but it's true that it's not a very comfortable spot to hang out. And the unsweetened ice cream incident was definitely the last straw for us in a long downward slide in customer service. (I still can't figure out how the ice cream even formed without sugar in it, but I'll vouch for the fact that it was bitter!)

      2. Just what I was thinking. I know that there are second cup cafe's in toronto and montreal. Could they be making a charge into the U.S.?
        I had a butter tart at the blue frog in JP couple of months ago. I think the baker is from canada.

        gutterman

        2 Replies
        1. re: gutterman

          No, in spite of the same name I'm certain there's no relation. This looks nothing like any Second Cup I've been to in TO. It's just that BFP loves him some butter tarts, and The ones at the TO Second Cups are among his favorites.

          1. re: gutterman

            Yeah, as Allstonian says, this can't be the Canadian chain: totally different logo, for one thing.

          2. When did the Starbucks close? Haven't been in that Star for a long time.

            That other bigger cafe on Harvard Ave. (as opposed to the small one that I think closed) looks kind of sterile and almost office like as opposed to cafe-like.

            Does Infusions only serve tea?

            4 Replies
            1. re: Joanie

              I was there a couple of months ago and I was told it hadn't been Starbucks in 6 months so settled for a weak cup made with one of those hockey pucks of compressed coffee.
              I was meeting someone there or would have saved my money.

              1. re: Joanie

                Infusions does have a limited coffee selection but I found their brew a bit weak for my taste; tea is definitely their strong suit. The coffee milk tea, however, is a very tasty and refreshing option.

                1. re: moglia

                  I can also vouch for their black milk bubble tea, which is extremely tasty -- for one thing, unlike the bubble teas at Lollicup, it actually tastes like tea!

                  1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                    Thread hijack coming up: has anyone tried any of the snacks / small plates available at Infusions?

              2. The Harvard Ave cafe behind McD's is closed.
                So I went to Herrels today. Good looking sesame bagel, bacon scallion cream cheese. Coffee was good, but the counter where you add cream, sugar etc. was filthy and littered with sweetener and spillage. I washed my hands, alas no paper towels in the bathroom. Bagel tasted good, cream cheese OK. (Iggy's maybe?). The hair in it was not mine. Please, Steve Herrel, you were my hero in the 70's with smoosh in's. ( That's right, Cold Stone did not invent them.) Get your affairs in order or cash in and sell to Joey Crugnalle. Say what you will, he runs a good operation.

                1 Reply
                1. re: trufflehound

                  You know what, it's a madhouse at times, and I wouldn't call it a coffee house, but your bagel mention reminded me that Bagel Rising a block away on Comm Ave has very good bagels and decent coffee. As to cream cheese, one of the things I've always liked about it is that it's the only place I can pretend to be healthy (it's definitely pretend with bagels that size) and get lowfat cream cheese without feeling like I'm suffering. Little difference between it and the regular. Their's has none of the gummy texture most of the lite ones do and the tang of the real thing. Never, no matter how busy there, seen the sort of mess you mention above that I've always seen at Herrell's.

                2. So 2nd Cup Cafe is finally open. As I suspected, it's a lovely room: very mellow and cozy, lot of dark wood, a couple of conversation pit areas with some relatively comfy-looking chairs, that sort of thing. The other tables are placed uncomfortably close together, however, because for some reason, at least half the room is taken up by the kitchen.

                  I say "for some reason" because the food menu consists exclusively of cold sandwiches and salads. Seriously, this place has a kitchen the size of my first apartment and unless they make the scones and muffins onsite (which I would hope they do, but you never know), there's nothing actually COOKED on the bloody menu! They could have easily shrunk the kitchen down a bit and given the tables a little more elbow room. It wasn't a problem this afternoon, when the only other person there was a guy working on an iBook in the opposite corner, but I really don't want to be drinking my coffee and reading my magazine while Kristen and Kirstin are six inches away yapping about what happened to Krystyne at the party on Gardner Street Friday night, y'know?

                  Perfectly decent iced coffee, choice of milk or cream, $1.89 with tax.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                    I was passing by, i saw the new cafe it looks very classy, confertable and inviting, the owner is very nice guy he offer me free browines to die for, even though the kitichen size is bigger than some stiduo in the area, it looks like they put a lot of efferot to serve the freshest and the most unblivable sandwich in town. I ordered the smoked turkey with bree cheese,avocado in french begget bread with hony mustered i was very impressed defintely this is one of the most uniqe coffe shop around you should chekck it out. Defintly my kind of coffe shop!

                  2. I know I'm a little late to the party, but I actually heard a rumor about 2nd Cup last spring. I was talking to the owner of Martin's Coffee Shop, complaining about the dearth of good cafes in Allston, when he told me his brother (or cousin or uncle or something) was putting in a new spot near Herrell's. I hadn't heard any more about it until I came across this thread.

                    I was actually looking for info about Harvard Ave Cafe. It was gone, now it's back. Does anybody know what's going on?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: neals

                      i'm sitting in the former harvard ave cafe right now, renamed in>house cafe. they haven't changed the sign out front, so don't get confused! definitely nicer than before, redecorated nicely. small, comfortable, just what i'm looking for. can't tell if they're using terrior coffee (though they are at second cup). free wi-fi. selection of bagels, muffins, croissants, etc. a few salads and spinach/meat pies.