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Cheap Eats: Dwelltime

Upon entering Dwelltime in Central Square, you feel that it is, indeed, time to dwell. The café is populated by fellow dwellers: students and young professionals whose books and stacks of used dishes suggest that they, too, are here for the long haul. Though you will likely join this cohort at a communal table or the counter at the coffee station, the café’s high ceiling and open concept make you feel as though you have ample room to work.

As for the food: I initially resisted the contents of the pastry case (macaroons galore!) and perused the lunch menu instead. It featured a variety of interesting, moderately healthy sandwiches and salads (the “starving artist” sandwich contained mango cilantro chutney, avocado, apple, cucumber, cilantro, and goat cheese). Eight bucks got me a bowl of soup and half sandwich. The soup of the day had no official name. The barista described its contents as best he could: potato, butternut squash? (it sounded like a question), vegetables of some sort, and most probably turkey broth. When I tasted the soup, I realized that his description was about as detailed as it gets. Neither the thick, homogenous consistency nor the mild, yet well seasoned flavor gave any hints as to the soup’s components. But I wasn’t complaining – the mystery ingredients formed a wholesome, comforting, and surprisingly filling soup. I almost didn’t have room for the accompanying half sandwich (“almost” being the operative word).

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It was supposed to be a BLT, but the cooks were kind enough to accommodate for my pescatarian objection. Given that they were so nice as to make me a “spicy egg salad” sandwich instead, I feel guilty for thinking that it was mediocre. I had high hopes that the Dijon, scallion, paprika would give the egg salad a kick, but I could barely taste any of those flavors. The eggs and seven-grain bread tasted fresh. They didn’t bring the heat but were satisfying nonetheless.

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I decided to wait a little before ordering coffee, which gets rave reviews online. These people are serious about their coffee. First, choose your beans by country of origin and then select an espresso drink or individually brewed, pour over drip. And it gets fancier – they offer a public cupping (the coffee equivalent of wine tasting – slurping and smelling techniques are involved) demonstration for the masses of people that are available on Thursdays at 3pm. To my immense displeasure, their early holiday closing time took me by surprise, and I didn’t get the opportunity to see if the coffee was worth the hype. I tried to ameliorate my disappointment by getting a “kitchen sink” chocolate-pretzel cookie to go for $1.50. It had that super buttery, melt-in-your-mouth consistency, which is not really my jam (I’m all about dense, crunchy cookies). Texture aside, it was quite tasty.

Overall, the food was solid and satisfying. It was not extraordinary, but the soup was worth the price. If you are willing to take the bougieness with a grain of salt, Dwelltime lives up to its name.

-Alison Sikowitz

Ambiance: A

Service: A

Food (taste): B+

Food (presentation): A-

Price: $5-$10

Overall: A-

364 Broadway

Cambridge, MA 02139

(617)714-5536

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