I promised I’d review the area cafés I’ve tried for writing purposes, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. Today, I’ll start making good on that promise. I’m at Bloc in Union Sq., Somerville. I used to come here once/week for a writers’ meetup, back when it was known as Bloc 11, but driving in from Beverly proved too daunting a task. It’s been several years now since I was last here, but I’m pleasantly surprised that all the good things I remember are still good, and the bad things are not as bad as I thought.
First, the seating: I remember Bloc 11 being very crowded at the meetups, but in fact this was an artifact of the meetup taking over the cramped front of the café, close to the windows. In fact, there’s a vast amount of space in the rear, including a former bank vault converted into cozy, semi-private seating. The metal chairs are hard, and the café tables are wobbly, but the built-in wooden benches in the vault and rearmost room are more stable and comfortable. They also have picnic tables outside, and it was even nice enough today that a few people were making use of them.
Second, the food: I remember the sandwiches being excellent, and I am not disappointed. I’m contentedly munching on a Safehaven, consisting of goat cheese, avocado, roasted fennel, lettuce, tomato, and cheddar, which I chose to have on a honey wheat bagel. That was a bit of a mistake. The sandwich is so hugely thick, I can barely stuff it into my mouth. The fennel is delicious, sweet and crunchy, the perfect counterpoint to the smooth, soft avocado and goat cheese. Note: I’m not a vegetarian, I just love good vegetables, and this sandwich really delivers. A nice pasta side salad with chunks of cucumber and pepper in a slightly spicy vinaigrette complements the sandwich nicely.
My mint matcha latte is pretty good, frothy and not too sweet, but slightly overbrewed so that it tastes a bit mossy. Still, it’s better than most matchas I’ve had around here. I should try the chai latte to see if it’s still as good as I remember.
There’s internet available, but you have to pay to use it, so I’m leaving it turned off for now. I kind of like this; if I really, absolutely have to look something up, I can use my phone. Meanwhile, I can write distraction-free.
The background music is eclectic and funky but not intrusive. I am loving all the elbow room I have, lots of space to sprawl out with my plate and my laptop. I’m expecting friends to join me any minute, and I had no trouble snagging a larger table to accommodate us all. My one complaint is that the temperature is a bit chilly. It’ll be nice in the summertime, I suspect. I may come back here and hide in the vault when I really need to focus on something.
The location is good, though not perfect. It’s a slight hike from Central Sq., but the 83 bus comes right through here. Hub Comics is next door, and if you want something more substantial than a sandwich or salad, there are plentiful excellent restaurants all around. I’m sad to see that locavore favorites Sherman Market and Sherman Café are both gone, the former replaced by an ice cream joint that I may go try when I’m done here.
Overall, a good choice for a place to get some serious work done.