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Bom Cafe in Inman Square

December 1, 2011

I’ve decided that Cambridge is the “North Side” of Chicago and Inman Square could pass for Lincoln Park on a smaller and less commercial scale. This is not to say that the restaurant selection is inferior to that of Lincoln Park – in fact, it might be better. I didn’t go to Inman Square knowing that there would be so many places where I would want to eat and linger to the left and right of Bom Cafe on Cambridge St. I went because I wanted to kill a three birds with one stone: 1) interview a second early action applicant to UChicago, 2) visit a new restaurant, and 3) see a place in Boston that I hadn’t been to before.

Besides being overly excited at the sight of so many restaurants in two, three blocks, I also happened to strike up a conversation with a UChicago MAPSS student who just happened to be visiting his girlfriend in Cambridge and sitting behind me at Bom Cafe as I whiled away the time before my UChicago alumni interview. The world of higher education can be very small it seems. Upon their departure, he jokingly told me to grill the applicant. I found this humorous considering my recent feelings on alumni interviewer-applicant interviewee relations.

But I don’t think I could have brought myself to grill this kid because of the great mood Bom Cafe inspires with its bright yellow walls and attentive owner. He’s a kindly older gentleman who makes your coffee in front of you, filling the cone strainer with dark grounds and pouring hot water from a red carafe into your cup.

Sure, one might wish for a slightly larger sandwich for $7, but mostly because the bread is so subtly sweet and chewy and the salt and snap of the linguiça is oh so pleasant against the softened green pepper and onion.

A leisurely lunch in a sunbeam was followed by the interview, where I am gratified again by how nice these applicants are – I do not remember projecting such a strong sense of sincere niceness when I interviewed and I suppose I should be grateful that my interviewer wrote a positive or perhaps indifferent report anyways. I rambled again throughout the interview in a different fashion for a different reason than my previous alumni interviewer (last time: sleep deprivation; this time: too much caffeine). I followed up the interview with some more reading and then a snack (and another coffee because once that line gets crossed…) to sustain me until I reached home.

Bom Cafe’s Pao de Queijo, or cheese bread, comes in round rolls with a crusty surface to convey the cheesy delight that awaits the consumer. Despite their cute appearance, this bread does not yield to tearing without a fight, strengthened by the power of cheese. They were the kind of delicious that demands closed eyes and deep inhalations through the nose to savor the deep yet delicate infusion of cheese with yeast present in the spongy innards of these outwardly crispy spheres. I want more.

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