Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Brass Buckle Cafe (Greenfield, MA)

Located at the corner of Main and Chapman Sts. in Greenfield, The Brass Buckle Cafe is just one of many small cafes or coffee shops that have existed in this location over the last fifteen years; some have been good, some bad, but none has managed to last more than a few years.  The Brass Buckle hopefully will not break that trend.

In the interest of full disclosure, apparently my step-dad and the owner of the cafe have a bit of a feud going on after an extremely negative post on Yelp or one of those sites, which the owner saw and ended up confronting my step-dad and screaming profanity at him, and then banished him from the cafe.  I figured I should give it a shot however, and I was really hoping that my step-dad simply had a bad experience, and while mine was not nearly so negative as his, I was really not pleased.

To start, you walk in and the place is actually nicely set up, very clean looking and with enough room everywhere.  It has a pretty standard cafe set up at the counter, with some cookies and other pastry types behind glass next to where you order, and a couple of giant blackboards behind the counter list what your options for drinks and food are.  The "kitchen" is open and you can watch your food be made if you are so inclined.  The prices are very reasonable, and their coffee menu is pretty good, including a few things that I do not often see, such as Vietnamese Iced Coffee.  So far, so good.

Chilaquiles and an iced coffee
From there things went down hill.  I waited several minutes to order despite having just one person ahead of me in line, and while the young man who took my order was perfectly friendly (which goes a long way with me), I hope for his sake he is new because his lack of familiarity with the cafe's offerings was a serious problem.  I ordered the chilaquiles, a classic Mexican breakfast dish which typically uses leftover corn tortillas which are fried in quarters and then baked with a sauce and topped with crema or queso fresco, and of course served with the requisite refried beans.  This iteration of the dish lacked the beans, had some crema (they say queso blanco on their website, but I am really doubtful about that) drizzled on the top of a giant pile of fried tortilla.  The red and green salsas they used were fine, nicely spicy, but nothing special.  Adding radish, which may have been pickled, was a nice touch, but none of the other vegetables were particularly good, and the tortillas were inconsistent as far as texture, which had some appeal to me in that I like contrast of textures, but it was too inconsistent, with some pieces completely soggy and others completely brittle.  The crema, or whatever it was, was actually the best part, but there wasn't enough to get on every bite, and while drowning the dish in it would not have been good either as far as presentation or to eat, adding a bit more would be a good idea.

Coffee being a big part of any cafe, and it being morning when I went, I had myself an iced coffee, served black, and it was...okay.  I drank the whole thing, and it was fine, but it was not great, certainly not up to the level of Greenfield Coffee, much less Cambridge's Crema Cafe or Northampton's La Fiorentina or Haymarket Cafe.  If the food was better, the coffee would be more than good enough, and if the coffee was better I could probably deal with the food that was not up to my standards.  The service is an issue, but again, if it were not one of multiple problems I could get over it and return.  Sadly, I do not believe that I will return.


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