Food & dining

Quick Bite: NOCA Provisions has a happy, healthy vibe

Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Where to NOCA Provisions, a cute café in a tranquil corner of Cambridge, not far from Alewife.

What for Toasts, popovers, bowls, and coffee from Robert Harris. He runs North Cambridge’s Season to Taste and the Table, a catering company and ultra-cozy restaurant, respectively.

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The scene Blissed out. Moms with babies strapped to their chests sip coffee standing up. A couple of dudes with earbuds peck energetically at laptops — yes, there’s free Wi-Fi — oblivious to the outside world. A couple sit side by side on a long bench, scrolling Facebook in tandem. Soul music blares on the stereo. Outside, a dog is leashed to a stop sign, slurping water from a copper bowl. Need reading material? There are a few “Humans of New York” hardcovers stacked on a table by the back door (which leads to a parking lot).

What you’re eating Savory breakfast foods, salads, and sweet treats. A server who radiates espresso-generated good vibes suggests lox served with cream cheese, capers, tomatoes, and smoked sea trout — get it atop a popover, country sourdough, or whole grain. There are other savory toppings, too, like avocado with pepper jelly, roasted mushrooms, ricotta, and hazelnuts. Or opt for eggs served either “red,” “green,” or “meaty”: with piquillo peppers and cherry tomatoes; atop tortillas with green chili; or mixed with bacon and roasted kale. At lunch, there are bowls with healthy fixings like green papaya, spinach, garbanzo beans, and pickled cauliflower. Grab them from a case and pat yourself on the back for your healthy decision. Then, fine, grab an oatmeal date cookie or carrot ginger scone to go.

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Care for a drink? The house drink is an espresso fizz, a curious combination of espresso over sparkling water and ice, twisted with lemon, served in a little glass. It’s not too strong and not too sweet. There are also fresh-pressed juices, iced lattes and cold brews, and MEM tea.

Overheard Economic opinions; egg enthusiasm; real estate realities. “If people can’t afford good medical care, then they shouldn’t buy fancy cellphones!” opines an older fellow, settling onto a bench. A customer inquires as to whether breakfast is available all day. “We get requests for eggs at all hours,” chuckles a server. “I would argue that the housing market in California is worse than anywhere in the country,” says a bespectacled woman to a pal, vigorously wiping her toddler’s hands with a napkin.

156 Rindge Ave., Cambridge, 617-902-0764, www.nocaprovisions.com

Kara Baskin can be reached at kcbaskin@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @kcbaskin.
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