Sunday, April 3, 2011

Restaurant Review: Mad Dog Cafe

Why do I go to new places when they just open up?  You get to see the places where the business planning succeeds and fails.  Too often, I am disappointed and feel as if I am being unfair.

Mad Dog Cafe opened on March 31st just east of Jones and Gerrard in an area that is sprouting coffee shops.   Grinders has been open here for just under a year with Starbucks opening shortly as well.  So, this location must have something going for it situated at the edge of Chinatown East and south of the Danforth.

The space is TARDISian with an entrance that is easy to miss but opens into a large spacious room.  The counter is at the back with a passthrough into the kitchen where wires wait for a hood for the eventual kitchen.  There are many seats waiting for strollers, yummy mummies, bikes, hipster dads, kids and those just wanting a good cup of coffee.  All the usual suspects are on the menu board with a better than average nod to kids' drinks.  This is a welcome addition to a coffee scene that sometimes forgets there are people with kids who also like coffee.  The space is comfortable in exactly the way that Starbucks is not.

The man who served me is definitely a member of the hypercaffeinated urban tribe of baristas with their finger on the tachycardian pulses of the coffee geeks.  From our conversation that included name dropping of Green Mountain, 49th Parallel, Intelligentsia, and Dark Horse, you get the feeling that this shop will try to deliver unto the coffee geeks that which is theirs without sacrificing an ordinary cup of Joe for anyone else.  They hope to bring in a second grinder to serve french press in the next month or so. Until that time, there will be only one drip along with the espresso.  You could hear the lament in his voice when he spoke of espresso only coffee shops because good coffee is much more than just espresso.

Soooooooooo.... how about the coffee?

Well, the latte was good but not as aggressive as I like (see Broadview Expresso).  It was nuanced and well made.  I will be going back to try other items.  Why do I go to new places when they just open up?   To get a chance at seeing a promising place such as this in its infancy before it gets too popular and crowded.  There is so much upside with this place, I hope that it can keep its promises that do not sound like any of the promises that we are hearing in the current federal election race.   Unlike the election race and new shops, I am not disappointed.

I would recommend this place and when it has its kitchen, I will be taking the rest of the family for a snack and coffee, the highest praise indeed...

The original barista has left, replaced by those of differing skills and talents. On the weekend, is the best of them whereas I am not sure the situation has been settled for the week. On the bright side, the food board is up and the grub is at the level of the prices.

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