A True Brew State
By Tom Long / Fiddlehead Contributing Editor
We define “third places” as gathering spots for locals where good food, drink and conversation are served regularly.
True Brew Barista is a short walk from Main Street in Concord, but miles away from the crowds, traffic and urban angst. With its comfy couches, leather easy chairs, throw rugs and laidback atmosphere, it’s as comfortable as an old pair of shoes and is a gathering place for everyone from poets to politicians and hippies to hipsters.
It’s the kind of place that one could stop by for breakfast in the morning, for lunch in the afternoon and for beer and music at night.
True Brew is situated in a storefront in the 19th-century, Queen Anne-style J.E. McShane Block in Bicentennial Square, where cast-iron columns divide the wooden storefronts and stained-glass transoms top the recessed entrances.
With its hammered tin ceiling and worn floorboards that bear the marks of more than 100 years of footfalls, the bar/coffeehouse has an old-world feel. Black and white photos on the walls evoke a Concord of an earlier time. Storefront window seats overlook Bicentennial Square with its fountain, trees and wrought-iron seats.
The menus are almost part of the décor – chalked on wall-sized blackboards, with artistic touches like hand-drawn fruit, tea leaves and steaming coffee cups.
You don’t have to be a non-morning person to order a “Grumpy Breakfast,” two eggs over easy, apple smoked home fries, toast and a small drip coffee; or a chicken pesto wrap.
There’s also panini, pretzels, snacks and pastries. And of course, there are caffeinated beverages in many forms. Coffee drinks in every iteration are carefully dispensed by baristas, and for the tea-totalers among us, there is an incredibly wide selection of loose-tea, including lavender, apple fig, rhubarb honey, Formosa oolong and Rooibos chai, to name a few.
If you’re feeling more like an adult beverage, head around the corner to the alcohol bar and sample something a little more bracing, say an Allagash White, Switchback Unfiltered Ale, Dogfish SeaQuench Ale or one of the two dozen other craft brews.
You can enjoy your meals and libations at the bar or at the scattered and delightfully unmatched, comfy couches, chairs, window seats and café tables throughout True Brew.
Settle into a cushy settee or window seat and get some work done on the laptop, scroll through the messages on your iPhone or just pass the time of day with a good novel. Lingering is an art form at True Brew. Board games, like Scrabble, cribbage, Monopoly, Jenga and Concordopoly, are available for customers. There is also a strong lineup of evening performances by local musicians.
All that’s fun, comfortable and local about True Brew is overseen by a Brobdingnagian Viking wood carving with a horned helmet and a flowing beard – carved by a friend of the owners.
True Brew also operates the café at Gibson’s Bookstore on Main Street in Concord, another great place to pass the time in a true third-place atmosphere.