Revival’s Living for the Kimchi grain bowl. (Photo: Tom Meek)

Now that the new year is upon us and folks will want to eat healthier, can we talk kimchi and quinoa? Revival Cafe, which sprang from the roots of the old Crema Cafe in Harvard Square (now a Bluestone Lane location) and has three locales in Alewife, Davis Square and Newbury Street in Boston, serves up a great all-day breakfast menu that’s bolstered by a lunch offering come midday. I’m a big fan of the spacious Alewife location, a great place to hang out and chat or read and write that’s right off the Fitchburg Cutoff Bikepath that snakes through the Alewife Reservation’s wetlands – grab a coffee, go for a boardwalk stroll and come back for your comestibles.

Revival has a whole host of bakery goods – sticky buns, Rice Krispie squares, housemade bagels and muffins and the signature salt-and-pepper biscuit that comes with soup and is an option on some breakfast offerings – and a complete flight of coffee drinks. (I love that when you get an espresso it comes with a glass of carbonated water to knock it back with.) The brekkie menu has basic egg and cheese on a muffin (the Plain Jane), a vegan egg option (Zero Clucks), an egg-and-sausage burrito and, coming back to that salt-and-pepper biscuit, an egg sandwich with bacon, maple mustard butter and cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.

But let me draw your eye to the Living for the Kimchi grain bowl of healthy brown rice, quinoa, rich, ripe avocado, spinach, cauliflower, perfectly marinated mushrooms, crunchy garlic and natch, green bean kimchi all topped with a six-minute egg. I often ask for a second egg, and they always come out perfect, firm on the outside with a medium-runny yolk that adds flavor to the medley of textures and healthy goodness. The kimchi is a commanding and bonding force, as its juices seep in and infuse the rice, cauliflower and quinoa base, but it never overwhelms. It’s not super spicy, but does pack a bite. Besides the lip-puckering satisfaction, Living for the Kimchi is filling without giving you a food coma after-burn.

Over on the lunch menu, the sandwiches are fairly inventive and have vegetarian and vegan diners in mind with selections such as the Mrs. Sweet Potato and the Crispy Eggplant. Past fun eats have been the Spin(ach) Me Right Round, with spinach, romaine, turkey, roasted onions, marinated mushrooms, garlic croutons, feta and sherry vinaigrette; the For-Gouda-Bout It, with ham, smoked gouda, roasted onions, bread and butter pickles with dijonnaise on “wonder”ful bread; and the Crema Turkey classic from the Harvard Square days, with jicama slaw, avocado, bacon, and ancho aioli on marble rye bread. As you can tell by the menu titles, the folks at Revival have a playful sense of humor that’s reflected in the spritely bounce of those behind the counter. For the month of January, Revival offers take-home meals as part of its supper club. On the docket are chicken laap (Thai diced chicken), pork cassoulet and turkey meatballs. All come with a gluten-free and vegan option with tofu, mushrooms and the like.

Revival Cafe (125 Cambridge Park Drive, Alewife, Cambridge) 


Cambridge writer Tom Meek’s reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in WBUR’s The ARTery, The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe, The Rumpus, The Charleston City Paper and SLAB literary journal. Tom is also a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere.

This post was updated Jan. 7, 2022, to correct the location of a third cafe.