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Lunch, Anyone? L’Aroma Café & Bakery

A tea and lunch lover’s paradise

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Photos by Cydney Scott

With French music in the air, freshly baked pastries on display, and plenty of conversation around its small wooden tables, L’Aroma Café & Bakery could easily hold its own on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Happily for us, a trip to L’Aroma doesn’t require a passport, just a stroll down to Newbury Street.

Opened since 2005, this European-style café offers a great selection of salads and sandwiches, while also tempting the taste buds with mouth-watering desserts. When it comes to sandwiches, L’Aroma manages to cover the globe—with offerings from the terrific turkey club to the roast beef and brie to the vegetarian wrap (hummus, spinach, feta cheese, black olives, tomatoes, and red onion), there’s something for everyone.

We ordered the caprese, a sandwich stuffed with tomatoes, whole milk mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, and a pesto spread, served on ciabatta bread. It had a fresh, crisp taste. Along with the sandwich, we ordered a warm cinnamon apple cider, the perfect drink for a cold winter’s afternoon, and a customer favorite—the “everything” cookie. What’s in an “everything” cookie, you ask? A tasty combination of oatmeal, dark chocolate, coconut, and pecans. It was, pardon the pun, love at first bite.

You’ll also find a wide variety of salads (smoked salmon, grilled chicken, chicken Caesar, garden vegetable, spinach, chef, Asian chicken) and sandwiches. L’Aroma also features other treats: cookies, brownies, banana bread, zucchini bread, quiches, croissants, and assorted varieties of gelato by the scoop. Menu prices are comparable to similar shops, like Panera Bread and Au Bon Pain, ranging from about $5 to $8 for a salad or sandwich, and about $2 to $4 for the smaller items like croissants and desserts.

L’Aroma is appealing not just for its delicious lunches, but for its inviting and stylish atmosphere as well. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee welcomes you as soon as you enter the bustling café.

The walls are painted a warm yellow and trendy lighting illuminates the room. An outdoor patio offers the ideal spot for people-watching in good weather and the rounded seating area with large windows at the front provides the same all year round.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of L’Aroma’s décor are the wooden shelves and shadow boxes displaying teapots, teacups, mugs, and bags upon bags of Sri Lankan tea. Owners Ysuff and Haleema Salie emigrated from Sri Lanka about 30 years ago. They still maintain connections to tea estate owners in their native country and buy all of their tea directly from the growers. The café offers black teas like Earl Grey, green teas such as peach apricot, and herbal teas like chamomile. You can purchase bagged and loose-leaf teas to take home as well.

All in all, this café is a great place to grab coffee or a bite to eat with friends. Despite the hustle and bustle on weekends, the space still manages to feel cozy and comfortable. But a word to the wise: because the restaurant offers counter service only, you can expect both a line and a wait for a table on a weekend. On the Saturday afternoon we visited, there was a decent size line, and after placing our order, we found all 15 tables filled. Fortunately, we had to wait just four or five minutes before spotting a couple who were leaving. If your answer is “for here” when the barista asks, you may want to try L’Aroma during an off hour or a weekday.

But if you’re craving a fresh sandwich, crisp salad, delicious pastry, or even a latte—named “Best of Boston” in Boston magazine’s 2006 awards—then L’Aroma Café & Bakery is definitely your cup of tea.

L’Aroma Café & Bakery, 85 Newbury St., between Berkeley and Clarendon, Boston, is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. All major credit cards are accepted. More information can be found here or by calling 617-412-4001. Contact Ysuff Salie at ysuffsalie@verizon.net.

This is part of a weekly series featuring Boston lunch spots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the comments section below. Check out our list of lunchtime tips on Foursquare.

Tom Vellner can be reached at tvellner@bu.edu.

1 Comments

One Comment on Lunch, Anyone? L’Aroma Café & Bakery

  • Anonymous on 02.03.2011 at 11:42 am

    L’Aroma is overpriced and their quality is lacking.
    I went here multiple times because I worked in the area and my breaks weren’t too long so I wanted a quick bite to eat. Their baked goods are a joke. There’s always a fly or two buzzing around in there, sitting on the food which makes me lose my appetite so I go ahead and order and overpriced coffee.

    When I do feel like getting something, it’s usually a scone because that’s the only thing here worth eating. Their scones are delicious, I must admit. If you get a cookie, try not to break your tooth on it. If you get a muffin, you’ll HAVE to get a coffee or drink to wash it down because they’re seriously lacking in moisture. Their cakes are more frosting than cake, because again you need something to make up for the really dry cake. Their gelato is probably one of their better offerings.

    The crowd is full of foreigners and posh shoppers who probably don’t realize that what they’re eating/sipping on isn’t worth what they paid for, but they go there anyway. It is a nice cafe and a nice place to catch up with friends, but other than that L’Aroma doesn’t offer much.

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