Friday, February 23, 2024

A weekly notebook about food during the Covid-19 shutdown. Remember, if you’re dining out, doing takeout or getting delivery, the people serving up the food are part of the front line; keep it in mind when tipping.


Takeout: Café Beatrice


The grilled cheese and tomato bisque combo at Café Beatrice in Cambridge Crossing. (Photo: Café Beatrice via Instagram)

Will Gilson, the chef/owner of Puritan & Co. in Inman Square, has set up a culinary hat trick in Cambridge Crossing, the developmental boom site across from the Museum of Science where a high-rise pops up every other week and new green line track cuts through with a grand station in the works. (Will it be called Lechmere, or Cambridge Crossing?) In an aesthetically spare, almost alpine-styled structure to the north, across from the old Lechmere T station, Gilson has opened Café Beatrice and The Lexington; soon to come is Geppetto. What does that all mean? Beatrice is a daylong biz that nourishes professionals working from home, and those raising more housing for more professionals. At night the space becomes The Lexington, which offers nouvelle gastropub fare. Geppetto will be the restaurateur’s spin on fine Italian cuisine.

Beatrice and The Lexington are open only for takeout during the Covid-19 lockdown. There are outside tables along the gorgeous green spaces and ponds sculpted into the middle of the sprawling site, but no heaters.


If you go to Beatrice for takeout breakfast or lunch, take a long look at the huge pastry display – it’s something else. On the menu is a kouign amann, salted hazelnut sticky buns and fruit brioche. I was there on the day Beatrice offered something of a savory scone/bun called an Italian hero, with the kinds of cured meats, cheese and spices you’d find in what my mom used to call a “sinful,” in which olive oil and oregano reigned supreme. For the morning the café also serves up egg sandos and veggie breakfast tacos that look enticing with avocado and green chili. But that’s for my next trip; I was there for lunch, and had it in my mind to have the tuna niçoise sandwich (I can’t say no to Spanish tuna and olive tapenade) or the soba noodle bowl with miso-roasted broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage and a soy-ginger dressing. I opted for the daily special of a basic grilled cheese and a cup of tomato bisque, and am glad I did. Between two thick, golden slices of airy sourdough oozed mild, aged cheddar that was far more glorious than anything you could get in a supermarket, let alone a gourmet cheese shop. It was simple and needed nothing else. No mustard. No nothing. I ate outside and I ate it fast, not because it was cold, but because it was that good. I wanted a second one. The bisque was slightly spiced and low on the cream – hearty, not heavy, and a good internal warmer.

I’ll be back, though the area is not super convenient for me. If I lived in that area I’d likely be working my way up and down the Beatrice and Lexington menus. The spacious café area, with its fireplace and wide-open window onto the universe popping up outside, looks like a fantastic place to have coffee and read and write once this is all over.

Café Beatrice (100 N. First St., Cambridge Crossing)