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Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Art of the Burn, at Hearth Coffee

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2015 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge ERIC S. BURKETT
  • Eric S. Burkett

Given the rapid comings and goings of businesses in the Castro lately, particularly cafes, I had completely missed the opening last fall of Hearth Coffee at 17th and Castro. That's my loss, because Hearth is worth seeking out.

click to enlarge ERIC S. BURKETT
  • Eric S. Burkett
Two visits over five days gave me the opportunity to sample a couple varieties of pastry chef Megan Bovis' excellent pastries which, I have to admit, alarmed me the first time I saw them. Bovis, formerly of Neighbor Bakehouse and Craftsman & Wolves, takes her creations to a deep, dark brown. But don't be dissuaded. That extra time in the oven brings out the pastry's darker sweetness, with far more complexity than you'll find in other goods baked to the usual golden ideal.

The pain au mocha, a flaky croissant filled with creamy espresso-infused chocolate, was sweet enough to let you know you're indulging but not too sweet. A grown-up sweet. At the other end of the pastry spectrum is the savory brie en croûte. Enveloping rich Cowgirl Creamery Mount Tam cheese and topped with chives and salt flakes, it offered a lovely foil to the pastry's overall richness.

On my first visit with friends, we had Hearth's delicious hot chocolate. Geared to grown-up tastes, it's full and sweet — again, not too sweet — and topped with foamed milk. It was smooth and comforting. On my second visit, I chose from their small but thoughtful tea selection, but I got coffee instead. I decided to roll with it and I'm I glad I did. Hearth roasts its own beans – the coffee is really Hearth's raison d'être, and they do their roasting in the back of the cafe – and the coffee, which arrived in a small glass pitcher, was tasty indeed with deep nutty, caramel notes. The pitcher was enough for more than two cups.  Along with the brie en croûte, it only set me back $9.25, plus a buck a for the tip jar.

Hearth offers a broader seasonal menu of soups and sandwiches, as well as snack platters of olives and nuts, and a small selection of beers and wines. They also offer also coffee flights and food pairings for those who are serious about their java. The atmosphere is bright and open, perhaps even stark, but that openness drives the focus of the room to what's going on behind the counter. And very good things are happening behind that counter.

Hearth Coffee, 3985 17th Street

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Eric S. Burkett

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