I love coffee. In a people-will-get-hurt-if-I-don’t-get-it kind of way. But woman does not live by beans alone–she longs for well-crafted sustenance, creative entrees, and a place where the gluten-free, lactose intolerant, vegetarian and carnivore might mingle happily.
In the small town of Winona, Minnesota, a common lament is that we’re a little short on dining options. We have been fortunate to have the Blue Heron, but the coffee shop usually closes at 6pm, which makes it a little hard on the evening crowd (they do have dinners on certain nights, and these are well worth attending, but they are not a daily occurrence). Other good places include the new Thai restaurant on the east side, Little Thailand (where Chong’s used to be). But, my fellow Winonans, I have found a new source of delightful food inspiration! West of town on fifth street you will find a corner coffee house called Awakening.
They have been open for a few months now, but are still, I think, a bit of an unknown. And me–I’m not one for well-kept secrets: the word is out! Full menu, lunch buffet, and coffee are exciting on their own… but (and here is the best bit): it belongs to a family of bakers. The bread alone makes me weak in the knees:
- wheat berry
- cranberry wild rice
- cinnamon raison
- marble rye
- nine grain
These breads can be turned to the usual task of holding a sandwich–or the higher calling of battered french toast. And that brings me round to breakfast. Looking for something new? How about sweet cream pancakes?? Omelets of abiding interest include asparagus with bacon, spinach with red pepper, kielbasa with peppers and onions (oh my!). The traditional breakfast (eggs, toast, meat, hash) will only cost you $5.99–but why not raise the bar? How about eggs Benedict? Breakfast burrito? Build your own? I’ve not tried them all, but I hear that the chef’s expertise with an egg is almost spiritual.
Not in the mood for a full meal? Not a problem. There are cupcakes. Not boring chocolate and vanilla–but german chocolate, chili chocolate, raspberry cream, butterscotch high hat, and some for which a name really just doesn’t do justice. There are also crispies and fudgies. Not sure what those are? Does it matter? Anything that sounds like a seven-year-old’s dream come true is worth sampling. I had the raspberry cream. And frankly, I could have had about six more.
Finally, let me say a word or two about atmosphere. Sharing a building with Lighthouse ministries, the coffee house is run by the same family and has a ‘big holiday dinner’ feel that I haven’t experienced since living near Little Italy. The colors are warm and inviting, the booths comfy, the lighting and fixtures all pleasing to the eye. And it’s not too far away, either–at 901 W 5th street (see map). Best of all, it’s open from 6am to 9pm Tuesday through Saturday. Full dinner menu, full dinner hours, with breakfast and lunch served all day.
Being a fan of Winona’s other coffee shops, I don’t mean this review to be a throwing of the gauntlet–but I think we can all welcome a new and inviting place to dine, work and share. Come down to West 5th and see for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.