Homegrown comfort, via Ethiopia
by John Buntin
Yes, there's a Starbucks in Central Square, but if you live in the neighborhood
you probably prefer your comforts more homegrown. Now residents have a new
reason to avoid the Seattle interloper: winsome Ras Café.
Tucked behind the imposing First Baptist Church in Central Square, the Ras
Café is a cheery aerie with bright décor and a bird's-eye view of
the street. The proud creation of two cousins from Ethiopia, Ras Café
serves up good sandwiches and coffee and topnotch juices and smoothies.
Everything is wonderfully fresh. The tomatoes, avocados, carrots, sprouts, and
cheese of the "Urban Garden" sandwich ($4.50) testify to the power of good
ingredients. The veggie-melt sandwich ($4.75) -- artichoke hearts smothered in
cheese with red onions, sprouts, and spinach -- is as good as it sounds. The
pear-ginger-lemon juice ($3.50) is puréed on the spot.
The most enticing thing on the menu, however, is something you can't have: the
special Ethiopian house coffee brewed in a French press ($1.25). In Ethiopia,
coffee is prepared in an exacting manner; the grinds are traditionally brewed
three times in a special earthen container. Our regretful server explained to
us that the French press method hadn't worked out -- yet. We can always hope
for a breakthrough.
Ras Café, located at 26 Franklin Street, in Cambridge, is open daily
from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Call (617) 441-3021.
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