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Crema Cafe

In a word: Where the coffee flows like molasses.

The specs: #0289
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Cap Times, Isthmus, 77 Square; another mention at Isthmus; official web site, Twitter, Crema Cafe on Urbanspoon

Latest Crema Cafe news and reviews

JM ate a peanut butter cookie and a hot chocolate.
Nichole had a mint tea.
The bill was $7, or $3.50/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave Crema Cafe a B (see our grading rubric).

Crema Cafe is where Cuppa Jo used to be, on Monona Drive.

Crema CafeSnowy

Door shadowThe interior is pleasant, and a touch more chic than Cuppa Jo was. The wall of coffee mugs is gone, and a big purple couch provides most of the cushy seating. A Marimekko pear decorates one wall.

MarimekkoTheir menu features lots of local/organic stuff, and the cooler is full of Sugar River yogurt as well as the more corporate Horizon dairy offerings. Very unfortunately for us (and you, gentle readers) they stop serving food at 2:30, though they stay open until 6. Had we known that, we might have aimed to visit on a weekend.

Peanut butter cookieThat said, if the peanut butter cookie is any indication of the quality of their in-house bakery work, it's worth a stop just for something sweet. Some of the sandwiches look quite pleasing, but most look they're on the fancy side of normal.

Something that really detracted from the experience, though, was that it took a long, lo-o-o-o-o-ong time to get served. The lone barista was clearly new, and, while nice, was hopelessly in the weeds even though we were almost the only people in the place. We must have been second in line for 10 minutes as one espresso drink was purchased with a gift card, and the manager was called for a walk-through; then, it took another 10 (and another phone call) to get our tea and cocoa. We really hope this is just about growing pains and not the way things will always run at Crema.


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"Gentle readers".. LOL. I remember Miss Manners used to call her readers that.

The PB cookie looks soooo good.

This is a welcome place in this part of town. The coffee is great and sandwiches are way better than most coffee shops. You have to try the ArtiMelt, I go there just for that sandwich!

I stopped in for the first time and tested the BlueBird Chicken salad sandwich. It was very nice, if a tad sweet. I'm unconvinced any sandwich in the world is worth $7 but sometimes ya just gotta pay. This was as good as anything I've had in recent months. Lots of interesting nuances. And delightfully blue, thanks to dried blueberries.

It looks like a cozy place to hang out.

Beware the deception at Crema Cafe. This is not a coffee shop. This is a small bistro cunningly disguised as a coffee shop. I found out from a regular that the owner is a former high-end chef and he's been ramping up the menu slowly as he goes along. I had the Balsamic Beef sammy the other day and it easily the best sandwich I've had in Madison. If he were located on the square, he could easily get away with charging twice as much for the food quality he's putting out. Monona got one lucky damn break getting this little place dropped in their midst, I'm jealous.

Good news for us far-west-siders: signs for Crema Cafe have gone up in the old Common Grounds space at Watts and Commerce, just beyond the Princeton Club. It wasn't open yet as of last weekend, but their website makes it sound like it is now. I've never been in the mood to drive all the way to Monona to try it, so I'm pretty psyched!

We are regulars at Crema and have noticed that Steven and his coffee/sandwich shop are growing quit nicely!...and I think the reason for that is he is proud of his chef and kitchen skills and has an opportunity to showcase them. (Incidentally, his early morning scones are large and delicious and we would compare them with any other coffee shop in town!)

I just found Crema. I tried the Bluebird Chicken Salad Sandwich. Delicious! I will be back and bringing my family for more. I appreciate the added bonus of being organic.

The Balsalmic Beef is the best sandwich I've ever eaten. And I've eaten a lot of sandwiches.

Still v.v. slow. But I have become a devotee of the breakfast sandwich. I don't even miss not driving past Ground Zero on my way to work anymore.

Mr Book Police, I know you. It's not fast food, never will be. Everything's cooked to order, all fresh, no compromising. No one ever gave this part of town a chance, I did though and others are following.

Sassy! Please note it wasn't a complaint, just an observation.

Also an observation: the cherry almond and peach pecan scones are great.

Love Crema! I've never had a disappointing meal there. And for $7, the sandwiches are big enough to share, especially for lunch.

I'm sitting at Crema *right now* and just finished a Hot Chick sandwich. Stella's Bakery has been my go-to place for sandwiches for the last year or so (thanks to this blog), but I don't know - if this sandwich is any indication, this place is right up there, too....

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