Monday, March 10, 2008

REVIEW: Brewed Awakenings- *** / $$

After a number of other visits to Brewed Awakenings, I feel good about the place. I'm not so hot on the faux-quaint shopping center in which it's located, but the shop itself is good.

As I mentioned in the Quickview, entering BrewAwk is a pleasant experience. It's very large, with comfy chairs and couches littered about. Lots of wood and stone lend the place a decently genuine tone, even if it is faker than Hollywood. Good circulation and large windows give the inside a very airy feel, and it's an absolute charm to sit in the sun which pours through the large panes of glass.

Pretty much everything I said still holds. I have a number of other things on the menu and they are all good to very good. The cake selection is wide and well-made. As you can see in the image, they've got a wide selection of bagels, cookies, fruit, cakes, and pies. They also have a variety of hot sandwiches, such as panini, which are good. The inclusion of bagels and muffins means that BrewAwk is an excellent Morning Routine location, especially with it being right off of busy Route 1. If you're on your way to, or inbetween, classes at URI, it's hard to beat the selection, here. If only...

If only the coffee and espresso was better. In my cafe reviews, I'm weighting the quality of the coffee very heavily, and for all that BrewAwk does right, they do the coffee wrong. They've messed up chai on multiple occasions, now. It was very watery the first time, and has only been somewhat better on successive trips. The coffee was pathetically weak on one trip, but has been good on all others. Espresso is adequate; decently strong and flavorful, with the good earthy tones that go so well in espresso. Sadly, milk steaming is a lost art, here. It's been pretty poor on all trips. Rough, large bubbles steal any sense of silky texture that should be there in well-steamed milk.

The Morning Routine, though, is alive and well. Egg sandwiches taste fresh, bagels are dense and tasty, and all ingredients are quality. Fruit salads, for those of a healthier bent, are also very tasty and devoid of any crappy pieces and the zing of poorly washed fruit. If you just want to say 'fuck it' to healthy, they have those cookies. Wonderfully, the English muffins appear to be Thomas', which is the only brand in existence, as far as I'm concerned.

BrewAwk appears to be trying to move away from cafe roots and into something more akin to a lunch spot. The panini could be forgiven, but the recent availability of wraps, meals, and the like pushes this place past cafe and into a sort of nether region. The selection isn't big enough to be a restaurant, but it's too large to be a really dedicated cafe. I'm not sure the expansion is the best idea. As I've seen, the quality of the espresso is nothing to write home about, and as such BrewAwk fails as a cafe in regards to the very meaning of the word. The selection and atmosphere are good enough where nearby residents will certainly like to visit, but even in the area, much better espresso and coffee is available.

Brewed Awakenings: ***
Price range for two: $6-$10

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60 S County Commons Way
South Kingstown, RI 02879

Monday through Thursday 6:00am to 11:00pm
Friday through Sunday 6:00am to 12:00am

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