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“Homey neighborhood cafe”
4 of 5 bubbles Review of Columbus Cafe - CLOSED

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Columbus Cafe
Price range: $0 - $12
Cuisines: Cafe, International
Neighborhood: South End
Restaurant details
Neighborhood: South End
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
26 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Homey neighborhood cafe”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 12, 2012

I have walked by this place many times... but never tried it until now. What a pleasant surprise! The atmosphere is dark (please add more lights... reading a menu by a single candle on the table isn't good...) and the decor is sparse... But the food was delicious, inexpensive, and comforting on a cold winter Saturday night. This is exactly the kind of neighborhood restaurant one hopes to find hidden away.

There are two sections- the dining area set on the corner and a bar area with small tables which is another storefront down Columbus Ave. The only connection between the two seems to be through the back kitchen. There are patio tables and chairs out front and I am looking forward to a warm spring morning for brunch. The cafe is fortunately set on the sunny side of the street.

The staff were friendly and efficient. The restaurant was completely full at 7 pm and the waiters were wonderfully helpful and attentive. There are definitely no pretenses here. It is extremely casual. Our waiter was wearing a flannel plaid shirt and jeans. He obviously loved his job and was always quick to refill water glasses, clear plates, always smiling away.

One quick story that describes the atmosphere well- The table next to ours had two couples and a young baby. The baby began to fuss- and the mom was able to nurse her baby under a cover and continue eating and everything was very relaxed. No one at any of the other tables seemed to mind. It was very nonchalant and this could never have easily happened at a more upscale restaurant.

Our food was delicious! We shared an arugula salad loaded with apples and walnuts and creamy gorgonzola cheese. It had the lightest spritz of citrosy dressing which complemented the heavier flavors. We also shared a plantain appetizer with guacamole and tomatoes. This dish was our only disappointment, it needed more flavor oomph. The plantains were fried and bland and it would have been better if the diced tomatoes were a spicy pico de gallo and the guacamole had some heat or a cilantro kick.

For our entrees, we had a salmon encrusted with dill that was light, juicy, and served with mashed potatoes. We also tried the Argentinian flank steak with garlic spinach, Chimichurri, and yes... more mashed potatoes. They offer a decent selection of wines and almost all bottles are also offered by the glass. I loved that when we asked for second glasses of wine, the waiter brought the open bottles to the table and generously poured... The Malbec was lovely. I wish I remembered the label.

The Columbus Cafe was exactly what we were looking for... good food at decent prices in a friendly warm environment. Perfect comfort food. If we were in the mood for upscale, innovative cuisine... we would have gone elsewhere. But this is the place for low-key, relaxed, mellow dining.

  • Visited February 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank PackLightly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

7 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
115 reviews
64 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
“Better for Brunch”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 14, 2011

The Significant Other (SO)and I have had both brunch and dinner here in the last few weeks.
Liked the brunch (great value + good food) vs, the dinner which was OK just average .
Nothing at diinner matched the Crab Cakes Benedict which the SO had had a brunch and raved about.
I will say we have wanted to like this place because it's right around the corner from us and the young staff is wonderful and helpful - hopefully the evening chef will get back on track soon ....
Boston, MA

  • Visited September 2011
    • Service
    • Food
Thank SoEndBear
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amherst, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
35 reviews
24 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“two strikes and they were out”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 15, 2011

I really wanted to like this place. Yes, it's a little dark. Yes, the prices are a little high, but with a good product all is forgiven. I sat down on a Saturday morning around 10:30, only one other table occupied by ~5 folks, I was alone. Coffee came promptly. After about a 15 minute wait the other table received it's breakfast, I'd thought they had already had theirs and were hanging out... this was not a overwhelmed restaurant and 20 min to put together eggs is a bit much. About 5 minutes later my breakfast, Huevos Rancheros, came out. The eggs were perfect, served on two tortilla with some salsa, steaming hot. The problem? EVERYTHING else was tepid, the refried beans, the potatoes, the chorizo. I informed the waitress and said that if she'd just take the eggs and greens off and microwave the rest for 30-50 seconds it would be fine. She said no, they'd re make it. After another 10+ minute wait take two was delivered. Again the eggs were perfect, if it can be believed everything else was colder. I asked the (manager? owner?) if the chorizo was supposed to be cold, he asked if it was cold in the middle, I touched it w/my finger and said no, it's cold to the touch. They took it away and were going to go for try three, I'd already spent far more time than planned and simply asked how much for the coffee. $2 later I was out of there.
I can't help but wonder where the quality control was? 6 guests, 2 waiters, 2 people in the kitchen, a dish is sent back because the food is cold and they turn around and send another dish of cold food out? Unexcuseable.

  • Visited May 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2 Thank 2ksr2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, MA
Level Contributor
16 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Bread Pudding Best Dessert!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 19, 2008

Excellent food with a neighborhood feel!

Thank evbuxton
This review is the subjective opinion of an individual contributor and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor reviewer on Facebook
“fun atmosphere, good weekend brunch, and reasonable pricing. solid american bistro.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 12, 2008

fun atmosphere, good weekend brunch, and reasonable pricing. solid american bistro.

Thank A TripAdvisor reviewer on Facebook
This review is the subjective opinion of an individual contributor and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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