The name sounds penal, but you know what they say about book covers.
Bread & Water opened this past December in the Belle Haven Shopping Center (nee Brennan’s Café). Because this is the suburbs, I walked in the other day with low expectations. Strip malls can be home to jewels like Grounded Coffee on Telegraph Road, but the odds are usually not too good.
In between the closing of Brennan’s and late last year, coffee fiends in this part of Fairfax County a handful of eagle cries south of Alexandria, had three choices -- Starbucks in the Safeway, a Roy Rogers and a Dunkin Donuts. That’s a tepid lineup for foodies in neighborhoods such as Belle Haven and New Alexandria where folks can afford the next level. They can always go to Old Town for ye’ little café, but wouldn’t it be nice to have something they can call their own?
“I love this place,” Bob Slusser said as he ate a sticky bun at a pace that suggested he was retired and loving it. “ It’s been needed in the neighborhood.”
Tia Colvin of Alexandria echoed those comments.
“I love it. This is my third time here. I love the coffee.”
Ah yes, the coffee.
The house coffee is made by Lavazza, an Italian Company known for its espresso. I’m not a coffee critic, but I know what I like. LaVazza’s Tierra is a medium dark roast. At two bucks, it’s a steal and has kept me coming back for more.
Bread & Water is owned by Markos Panas, a friendly and familiar face behind the pastries and bread table at the Farmer’s Market in Old Town. Late last year he told me about opening up in Belle Haven. After a slow start, they’re cruising in fourth gear. We’re hearing they will start serving breakfast and dinner in a couple of months.
The bare concrete floor in this place leaves something to be desired, but the décor rises above the norm. I also love the fact you can see fresh pastries and artisan bread being wheeled in from their attached bakery.
And then there’s lunch. Early risers like me eat at 11. Bread & Water starts serving around noon. I forced myself to starve one day. Well worth the effort. B&W cooks up some delicious soups, gets creative with their sandwiches, and no two days are the same. They post the daily offerings at their Facebook page.
On one of my visits, a customer told me, “It’s nice to have a local coffee shop.”
Indeed. Coffee lovers in Belle Haven must feel good to get out of jail.