At The Coffee Brake Company, the wafting aromas of fresh coffee do not deceive: the staff freshly roasts beans onsite. They select local and artisan beans to blend into java drinks that can be served hot, cold, or by a dance crew from a nearby movie set.
Where the air was once filled with the pounding of hammers and the smell of hot iron, the sizzle of burgers and the scent of maple syrup now reign. Cafe Audrey resides in a historic former blacksmith’s shop whose interior delivers just about what the quaint brick building promises: white-painted wooden chairs and tables, lamps that resemble old kerosene lanterns, and walls lined with vintage photographs. There, families start the day or take a lunch break with soul-food staples such as shrimp po' boys and plates of broaster chicken—named with a portmanteau of “broken” and “toaster”—dipped in crisp, fluffy batter. On the all-day breakfast menu, huevos rancheros and chicken quesadillas add a touch of spice to the morning.
The Post-Tribune highlighted Cafe Audrey as part of the resurgence of the Fort Ben area. Owner Tammy Cunningham didn’t land there by accident: “I wanted a local feel. I wanted to be a part of the community,” she told the paper, adding that the café has built a fan base of “a lot of great word-of-mouth customers” since its 2011 opening.
Hearthstone Coffee House & Pub aims to enrich its community with its café drinks, food, and craft beers and by giving 10 cents of each beverage sold to a different local charity every month. The day begins with baristas pulling precise shots of espresso and steaming pitchers of milk, which accentuate breakfast sandwiches and fresh-baked morsels of coffeecake or scones. Later on, lunch-goers tear into caprese-salad sandwiches and after-work visitors pair draft beers with flatbread pizzas, soups and salads, or artisan sandwiches. Live music serenades the café Thursday–Saturday, with tunes from celtic musicians, singer-songwriters, and open-mic artists.
Hearthstone makes good on its name with a working stone fireplace topped by a dark wooden mantel that draws attention from diners throughout the interior. Low leather armchairs form a cozy circle around its comforting presence, and its firelight is augmented by a chandelier hanging overhead. Framed art punctuates the tranquil tan walls, which surround scattered clusters of tables and standalone chairs that feel at home in their solitude. At the bar, painted flames crown the menu boards and a rustic chandelier resembling twisted antlers stretches over patrons' heads.
3 Days in Paris Market Fresh Crepes, located in the middle of downtown’s historic City Market, whips up sweet and savory crêpes for tourists, businessmen and urban dwellers looking for something unusual. The small wooden booth is covered by a French-style, black and white striped awning and lists its menu items on a chalkboard behind the front counter. Green Eggs and Ham, Red Eggs and Bacon, and Black and Bleu Moo are colorful choices for breakfast, brunch and lunch, and other savory options include Buffalo, Pic Nic, Market Street and Harvest crêpes. Sweet concoctions include Classic, Dr’s Orders, Apple Pie High and St. Stephen. The Parisian style crepes are available daily from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
From the thick golden crusts of his Chicago-style pizzas to the hand-pounded cuts of pork on his tenderloin sandwiches, chef and owner Michael Kotarski, who co-owns the restaurant with his sister, Katie, caters to hearty appetites. Strapping plates can be found throughout the menu, including triple-decker BLTs layered between sourdough. The kitchen turns out dessert orders from scratch that feature bread pudding, white chocolate raspberry bars, and salted caramel bars.
Jump-start your morning with a breakfast pita, such as the Morning Glory ($5.89), comprised of avocado, eggs, tomatoes, home fries, grilled green peppers, onions, and your choice of cheese and zesty sauces. Don't feel ashamed if your morning happens to be what other people call the afternoon, since breakfast pitas are served all day.