Sophia's Bakery & Cafe
The specs: #0603
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at 77 Square, Madison Brunch, Yelp, Insider Pages, kudzu, Trip Advisor, Wisconsin Roaming, Madison's Bottom Line; listing at Eat Drink Madison;
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Brett ate the sausage and fennel omelette with coffee and a chocolate croissant.
JM ate the chocolate chip pancakes with an orange juice.
Nichole ate the cheese blintzes with coffee and a chocolate croissant.
We split two sides of bacon.
The bill was $36, or $12/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave Sophia's Bakery & Cafe an A- (see our grading rubric).
Sophia's on Johnson St. is open only for weekend breakfasts. The logistics may be quirky, even a bit inaccessible, but the food is really good.
We ordered and took our coffee and croissants to a small table on the dirt terrace out front, which was a little chilly, but inside was full and too hot. The chocolate croissants were oblong (in the intimate space we couldn't help but overhear another patron order one by calling it a "cigar") and filled to bursting with rich, gooey dark chocolate probably made with the Omanhene cocoa powder from the tin on the kitchen shelf. Fruit-studded, bestreuseled coffee cakes, scones and turnovers were also on offer.
Brett got an omelette with a side of red and sweet potatoes. The eggs had been cooked gently and folded over big chunks of cased sausage, slices of fennel sauteed until they were tender but not so long they lost their gentle anise flavor, and a white cheese sauce.
JM's pancakes had bittersweet chocolate chips, tart orange marmalade, and soft savory cake in equilibrium. The cakes were well made and balanced all of these flavors well enough, though they did get a little eggy toward the finish.
"Grandma's sweet cheese blintzes" were 2 crepes filled with a generous serving of warm, sweetened and thinned cottage cheese. The apricot topping was bright and lemony and in too short supply.
The logistics, as mentioned, are tricky. The tiny dining room may be part of the charm (there is a carryout option) but their unique way of settling the checks calls for patrons to stand in line twice, once to order and again to re-recite the order from memory and pay. We tried to pay at the counter when we placed our order, but our cash was politely refused. As far as we could tell that's how it's done, but maybe we're wrong.
Hassle aside, Sophia's is a pretty good value. Alterra coffee plus one refill is $1.25. Each side of bacon was 4 strips. (Good bacon, too.) Adding a side of one organic egg for $1 is like giving it away in a market where $2 for any old egg is standard. All things considered, Sophia's is worth it.