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IDIOT’S GUIDE: Kendall Square

Just four T stops away from Davis, Kendall Square is an area often unexplored by Tufts students. And though the neighborhood can give off an industrial vibe, this area of Cambridge has some of Boston’s best in coffee, pastry, and upscale dining.

Voltge Lattes

VOLTAGE COFFEE & ART

295 3rd St, Cambridge, MA 02142 http://voltagecoffee.com

With its all-white interior, rounded countertop, and bright lighting, Voltage screams modern. Even though, all three times I visited, there was quite a long line, the wait gave me time to review the extensive latte menu—the list of sophistically flavored lattes that will make your head swim. So many choices—the Kitsch and the Cactus, laced with lime peel and agave, or the Paper Plane, which has hints of cardamom, rose water, and honey. There’s also the Atticus Finch, which contains vanilla with burnt sugar. I decided on the Madame X, which includes earl grey infused white chocolate ganache.  My two companions chose the Beyond the Sea—homemade caramel and salt. After ordering, be prepared to settle in. On busy days, a latte can take nearly ten minutes to arrive. On other days, the wait may still be over five minutes. There do not seem to be many people working the machines, but those who are filling the drink orders are meticulous when it comes to their coffee. But these lattes are worth the wait. They are, dare I say it, the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot of lattes. The Improper Bostonian too chose Voltage as 2011’s best coffee shop in Boston. With a modern ambiance and killer lattes, it’s worth $7.50: $3.50 for the latte and $4 for the T.

Ambiance: A-

Service: B+

Food (taste): A

Food (presentation): A+

Overall: A

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TATTE

318 3rd St, Cambridge, MA 02142 http://www.tattecookies.com

Located across the street from Voltage, Tatte has a contrasting rustic French vibe. The space exudes warmth with dark wood furniture and vintage light fixtures clustered in the center of the large space. Choosing from the variety of cookies, pastries, tarts, and cakes that Tatte has to offer always takes a while. My sister and I ordered a Belgian chocolate brownie, which was thick, rich, and oh-so buttery. Also worth a mention is their cheesecake with blueberries and blackberries; it is light and creamy with just the right balance of sweetness. The chocolate espresso mascarpone cake, which a friend generously allowed me to sample, was smooth and indulgent with the right balance of flavors.

My only complaint is that service was quite slow. I had to stand for several minutes at the counter while I watched one of the workers slowly make her way over to the cheesecake and go through the process of cutting and arranging a slice for me. But that mild inconvenience was quickly forgotten as I sat down in this modern-meets-vintage space and had a forkful of my cheesecake.

Ambiance: A+

Service: B

Food (taste): A

Food (presentation): A+

Overall: A

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EVOO

350 3rd St, Cambridge, MA 02142 http://www.evoorestaurant.com

EVOO was named Best Eclectic Restaurant in Boston in three recent Zagat guides. And with its constantly changing menu of sophisticated New American cuisine, EVOO lives up to expectations, serving high quality food that is bursting with energetic flavor profiles. Some of our favorite starters (I went with my family) were the smoked rabbit confit, a sort of mushroom ravioli, and a gorgeous beet salad. The steak was “perfect,” according to my father, the char my sister enjoyed was “too good to share,” and my chicken dish with feta and olives was maybe the best chicken I’ve ever eaten. My mother ordered one of EVOO’s most popular dishes, the Chinese box containing Asian-flavored shrimp and beef with a gingered vegetable-cashew salad and organic brown rice, which was seasoned flawlessly and was also so large that my mother saved it for lunch the next day as well. Once dessert rolled around we mustered up some room in our stomachs for the chocolate-banana bread pudding with warm buttermilk caramel, the chocolate truffle cake with toasted marshmallow cream (ask for extra marshmallow), and apple crisp with salted caramel ice cream.  The dessert course caused endless “yum”ing and “ohmygodthisissogood”ing. By the end of the meal, I needed to be taken out of the building in a wheelbarrow. I wish I remembered more details about our meal, but all I remember thinking is that I could have just had one of the greatest meals of my life.

Ambiance: B+

Service: A

Food (taste): A+

Food (presentation): A

Overall: A

Among other notable spots in Kendall Square are Catalyst, which will be reviewed soon, and Area Four, which has been previously reviewed here.

-Izzy Levenson

Cover photo source.

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