Thursday, December 18, 2008

La Colombe (Manayunk)

I was intrigued enough by my trusted copy of NFT's description of La Colombe in Manayunk as the "good twin to Center City's Israeli trash evil twin" and decided to venture to the neighborhood to investigate further firsthand.

La Colombe is plain as far as modern cafes go. There are no plush armchairs that are inseparable from iPod-listening, web-surfing denizens. No colorful walls with mystical aphorisms and quotes from unimportant people. No CDs, books, or coffee paraphernalia for sale. Just a simple cafe focusing on the java drink, a small selection of French pastries and panini sandwiches, an uncluttered counter, some wall space for an independent photographer, light music, exposed ceilings, unassuming furniture, and plain lighting. Nothing that would steal the show from a good cup of coffee, the main purpose of visits from loyal patrons.

I ordered a single-shot cappuccino of their house roast, which arrived promptly from the masterful hands of the barista, served in porcelain (not 5% recycled wood pulp). So far so good. The test is in the brew and if there is such a thing as a perfect cappuccino, La Colombe's version is pretty close - topped by a slightly glistening foam with an intricate heart-shaped pattern, smooth but robust taste, and just the right temperature on a cold winter afternoon.

And to accompany my cappuccino, I had a delicious pain au chocolat which the barista (not so secretively) revealed was from a bakery in Havertown. It was very soft and flaky, filled with just the right dose of smooth and moist chocolate, and was perfectly sized for a nice little bite. Once again, a complement to the coffee, instead of an overbearing sidekick.

And what about the crowd here? This caffeine-stopover attracts many local cycling enthusiasts after their morning pedal. We saw two to three parties stop by just long enough to sip and savor their coffee and then go off on their bikes again, fully energized. Just like these folks, I'll definitely be back again to this favorite twin.

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