I say, “Hey, Tree House just moved in around the corner from me. Down on Lena Street, not too far from where High Mayhem used to be.”
Everyone else says, “Didn’t that used to be on Agua Fria?”
I shrug. I’d never been when it was there; I was exclusively double-timing Aztec Café and Ecco Espresso & Gelato. I have, however, been to the Tree Spot, a not-quite-café but shack-like spot built around a very large tree at a refugee camp in West Africa. I’d sit at a table and eat Cream of Wheat (very limited menu) and imagine the tree roots were playing footsie.
Anyway, if the new non-Agua Fria Tree House is missing anything, it’s Cream of Wheat and a giant oak springing up from the floor.
Other than that…well, let me first say that cafés are multipurpose venues: People come to talk with old friends, loiter with the regulars, meet for professional discussions, snack with a good book or Wi-Fi it up. That last one’s me: Cafés are my office away from the office. I’m sure it’ll be a while before Tree House finds its identity but, in its current newborn state, it works for all of the above.
The laptop class of customer doesn’t need much: coffee or chai and a bagel, muffin or scone. Occasionally, on special days (such as when you’ve got a food review budget), the computer user will order a hearty breakfast.
Tree House’s breakfast filled me up just fine; the wheat pancakes were fluffy rib-stickers, pinned down to the plate with blueberry compote. I ordered an egg on the side—it was teensy, but the cook nailed over easy. With coffee, the pre-tip total came to $14.95.
What am I, an AIG executive? In these economic times, Tree House could do well to drop its prices—across its chalkboards—a buck or two until a clientele builds up.
There are, however, a few creature comforts worth noting:
• Water and coffee are, thankfully, self-serve. I take my coffee black and after maybe a week’s worth of mugs, I haven’t pulled the bitter-brew face yet.
• The tables are brand new, don’t wobble and are wide enough to accommodate both a plate and a laptop. Correction: two plates and two laptops. There are outlets everywhere.
• The café boasts great, long windows, positioned at just the right angle to brighten the room without being blinding.
• There’s a secret door from the Rail Runner trail into the Lena Street Lofts over by the dumpster; that’s your path to caffeine after a jog.
Tree House Pastry Shop and Café
1600 Lena St., Ste. A2
7:30 am-5 pm Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-3 pm Sunday