I recently wrote about a huge, monster French press of coffee at Lyon Hall. It was $7 there during brunch, but you can get the exact same thing if you order a Large French Press ($4.25) at Northside Social. I came here during a weekday morning with a friend, armed with laptops, and nursed this tub-o-coffee for what must have been an hour. It’s a mix of Counter Culture coffee beans, and it’s gooooood coffee.
Last night I realized I’d scarcely eaten a thing all day long, so called in an order at Northside Social (I advise against doing this – neither the person who answered the phone, nor the cashier (who might have been the same person) was very friendly, although it may have been one troubled soul just having a bad day).
There’s a reason that calling in orders may not be the best idea here: is Northside Social *ever* not crowded? At 8 PM on a Friday evening, it was packed. That would be understandable at a “normal” restaurant, but keep in mind this place used to be Murky Coffee, and it isn’t *that* far removed, architecturally, from what Murky used to be. The crowds here amaze me.
The Friday Soup listed on their website is Seafood Chowder. They didn’t have it and I’m glad they didn’t – a Bowl of Bacon and Corn Chowder ($5.50, probably should have been discounted a dollar since it was ordered with a sandwich) was just terrific – two paper containers of delicious, hearty chowder, loaded with potatoes, carrots, and what surely must have been house made bacon-styled meat (really more like pancetta). If you’re ever here, and they have this chowder, get it – you’ll love it.
I showed this review to a friend (who had tasted the chowder), and the dialogue went as follows:
“You liked the chowder?”
“Don’t you think it tasted like boiled bacon water?”
“The Italian Grilled Cheese” ($9.50) wasn’t a huge sandwich in terms of dimensions, but what was there was stuffed with salumi and cheese: Montasio (very rare in these parts), provolone, ricotta, soppresatta, coppa, Prosciutto di Parma, tomato marmalade, pesto, and pickled hot peppers on focaccia, served with some Route 11 potato chips. I know this thing sounds impossibly busy and huge, but it really wasn’t; in fact, it was downright elegant for having so many ingredients. Highly recommended, and I would get this again in a heartbeat.
And, of course I’d need some breakfast the next morning, so I got a Bag of Counter Culture Espresso Toscano ($14). I’ve discussed this at length here, but I think Counter Culture is too light for home use unless you have *really* good equipment, and that includes boiling hot water; my Cuisinart Grind and Brew (with Pause and Pour!) just doesn’t get the water hot enough to extract what it needs to extract from these delicate beans. They asked me if I wanted a free cup of coffee since I purchased a bag of beans, and I said no because it was in the evening – there’s an item on my receipt that says “NO MAKE” with a charge of $4.00.
But that charge was surely for the Couscous Salad, which I thought sure was marked as $3.00, not $4.00, but I’m going from memory so I may be wrong. Regardless, the fine-looking couscous was quite literally inedible: it had either turned from age (it did not smell fermented), or had been tainted by some external factor. I thought it might have been a sensitivity to cilantro (which I don’t have), but my friend (who does) said no, it smelled like nail polish remover. There was something very wrong with this couscous, and it was discarded.
With my new Counter Culture beans, I did have a pleasant breakfast of Banana Chai Loaf ($3.00), a piece of pound cake, sugared at the perimeter, and tasting more strongly of chai than banana. It survived the day (and night) better than a Walnut Coffee Cake Muffin ($2.75) which was well-made, but just too dry to be pleasant (don’t ever pass judgment on a baked good that’s at least a day old – this muffin was probably quite good the day before).
With tax and tip, my “late-night snack” came out to $45.63. Ouch! But, couscous aside, it was worth every penny.