A match-up made in heaven.
It’s official: there’s a new bakery-café in town. Tatte opened its doors on October 4th. Though we (and many others) have mourned the loss of Panera, supplier of comfort food on many a school-night, the Indy is excited for this latest addition to Harvard Square.
The natural first question, of course, is whether Tatte has what it takes to go toe to toe with Crema Cafe, a long-time favorite of Harvard students and Square patrons alike. How do they size up?
Tatte: With a Mediterranean flair, Tatte offers a wide selection of pastries, breakfast dishes, and sandwiches. Some would liken it to its parent company, Panera—except “bougier.” What sets Tatte aside from other cafes in the square is its brunch menu. Shakshuka (a Middle Eastern breakfast favorite, consisting of spicy tomato sauce, egg, and grilled bread), avocado toast, and quiche are all headliners. You can thank Tatte’s founder, Tzurit Or, for bringing her Israeli roots into the culinary spotlight here.
In addition to its hearty brunch options, Tatte also has flaky, flavorful pastries and simple yet delicious desserts. My favorites include the fruit and yogurt parfait, the raspberry cheesecake cup, and the spinach and labne pita (note: labne is a tangy yogurt, similar to a Middle Eastern cream cheese), which make perfect between-class snacks.
Crema: Ah, good old Crema. From their famous English muffins to the cupcakes of the month to their even more famous grilled chicken sandwich, Crema is also a powerhouse of café food. While the food at Crema is more quintessentially American, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Crema is, in my opinion, creative comfort food. Anyone can make a decent chicken sandwich, but that cheesy corn spread? Pure culinary genius. As for dessert, the cupcakes stand out most, but sometimes the flavors of the month fall flat, and the cake-to-frosting ratio falls short.
Finally, though Crema is a strong competitor for breakfast and lunch, they lack a definitive brunch menu—and yes, there’s a difference.
Winner: Tatte, with the exception of Crema’s grilled chicken sandwich!
Tatte: Let me start off by saying that I do not drink coffee regularly. However, after trying Tatte’s coffee, I may start. Its bold, dark flavors are everything coffee should be, without the bitterness. I did not even need cream or sugar. However, there is a dearth of fun latte beverages. Tatte really does stay true to its roots as a bakery.
Crema: While Crema’s black coffee may be lacking, they make up for it with their lattes and lemonades. The Golden Crema, with its notes of cinnamon and honey, is like heaven in a cup for those in a desperate need of a gentle pick-me-up. The Matte Latte manages to procure images of the Argentine pampas while at once refreshing the drinker with its high caffeine content. In addition, both the ginger lemonade and the berry limeade are the perfect combination of sweet and tart.
Winner: Crema—unless you like your coffee black.
Tatte: Located in Panera’s old space, Tatte is a sizable establishment. The bottom floor has ample seating—but wait! There’s more upstairs! There is also plenty of room on the bottom floor to wait in what will be a very long line for the next few weeks without disturbing the diners at their tables. With tons of natural light and access to Harvard WiFi, this space is ideal for doing homework (or procrastinating while you stuff your face with pastries.)
Crema: Tucked away in Brattle Square, Crema has character. However, it is also very cramped, and finding a seat is always an ordeal. The lack of WiFi could be perceived as a blessing or a curse. If you are trying to write a paper and need to stay off Facebook at all costs, then perhaps holing up in Crema is the play. However, for anything that requires Internet, take your latte and sandwich to go.
While I may be Team Tatte, I will always carry a torch for Crema. Though in all honesty, both Tatte and Crema are beacons of hope in the otherwise bleak landscape of culinary options that is Harvard Square. We really can’t go wrong!
Caroline Gentile ’17 (firstname.lastname@example.org) can be found alternating between Tatte and Crema for sustenance throughout the duration of the HUDS strike.