A two-year-old project will finally come to fruition this weekend when Café Beatrice — one of three new concepts from Puritan & Co. chef Will Gilson — opens Saturday at The Shed at Cambridge Crossing.
Café Beatrice was supposed to launch with Gilson’s other Cambridge Crossing restaurants — The Lexington, a rooftop bar, and Geppetto, which will focus on Northern Italian cuisine — in June. But the pandemic dramatically shifted the opening plans; now, The Lexington will open in November, and Geppetto is slated for spring 2021.
“It’s scary,” Gilson told Boston.com in September. “We’re opening a restaurant that was ambitious in the best of times. We have multiple concepts all within a building that’s trying to reach different portions of what a mixed-use neighborhood was all about: people who lived there, people who worked there, a place for people to come to on the weekends and enjoy.”
Luckily, Gilson and his team have been able to take Café Beatrice on a couple of test runs, first with a 2019 summer pop-up in Allston, then with weekend pop-ups at Puritan & Co. Pastry chef Brian Mercury, who leads the food program at Café Beatrice, said those test runs were crucial.
“It’s a good way [to figure out], you know, what did I do wrong when I made this, what did I do right, did people like it, were people excited about what we had to offer, are we matching people’s desires and needs at the moment,” Mercury said. “Because as a chef, you’re always playing with what’s your personal preference and what’s everybody else’s preference.”
Here’s what went right: A salted hazelnut sticky bun, which will be on Café Beatrice’s menu alongside items like an Italian grinder croissant and a maple kouign-amann.
“The sticky bun we’ve really been working on,” Mercury said. “It has a laminated dough and still has the cinnamon smear filling, but then we top it with toasted hazelnut and a salted coffee caramel mixture. The cinnamon rolls themselves are baked separately so they get really crispy and flaky, and then once they come out of the oven and cool, we hit them with that caramel, and it just kind of coats the whole thing.”
During lunch time, diners can pick up a Niçoise salad, sourdough pan pizza, and a miso-roasted broccoli melt, all of which are available for takeout or dine-in. Beverages include coffee, tea, lemonade, and more.
Outside, guests can enjoy breakfast or lunch on the patio, while a cafe lounge and grab-and-go area is available indoors. Designed by RODE Architects, the eatery has a sleek, modern vibe, with accents of teal, pink, stone, and brass.
Despite opening at Cambridge Crossing, a 43-acre, mixed-used development in East Cambridge, later than expected, Mercury said that the cafe has grown to fit “who we are in these times.”
“I’m excited to see — two months, a year from now — just how far we’ve grown,” he said. “It’s ever evolving, and that’s what a restaurant always is.”
Café Beatrice; 100 N. First St., Cambridge; Tuesdays–Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; thelexingtoncx.com.
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