Sunday, November 29, 2009

Design Notes, Great Coffee, Brew & Bites Light Up Baker & McAllister

Owners Lauren Alameda-Reddell and Jason Wahlberg

Sleek and bright with natural light throughout

(In case you missed this post earlier during the Tday rush):

Open only a month, the Matching Half Cafe sports a brisk, caffeinated business bursting with good bites and fine brews at the corner of Baker and McAllister, part of NOPA's revitalized Baker Street Beat. Owners Jason Wahlberg and Lauren Alameda-Reddell designed much of the bright and smart space themselves, and their pride of ownership infuses the cafe with a cheery earnestness.

NOPA's newest business claims the southeast corner of Baker and McAllister Streets, site of the long-time One World Cafe -- a cozy, jumbled old-style coffeehouse with its primary focus at the far end of the room. That's all changed with the Matching Half. Wahlberg and Alameda-Reddell started negotiating for the corner spot last February and drafted plans for the design and layout. Their backgrounds served them well. Wahberg was busy with construction and remodeling while Alameda-Reddell worked at an architectural firm before they were both laid off last year.

"We wanted to open the space and keep a good flow through it," explained Wahlberg. He and Alameda-Reddell installed a full-length bar as the cafe's central feature, emphasizing the spaciousness and orientation to the full windows on both the McAllister and Baker sides. The cafe offers a crisp, pleasing environment with airy high ceilings and slick pine floors and sleek tables the owners designed and built themselves.

Patrons have a choice of chatting up the baristas while seated at the counter, grabbing one of the clutch of tables for twos and fours, or taking charge of the large table for six. Everyone gets a great view, indoors and outside. These last several bright November days have found dog-walkers, cyclists, and strolling neighbors making a stop at one of the four outside tables and benches. Wahberg said they definitely wanted to have outside seating. "This is such a wide sidewalk."

"We like the cafe culture in the city," Wahlberg added. "We like how the Velo Rouge Cafe (located on Arguello at McAllister and a few blocks from an entry to Golden Gate Park) gets the bike traffic and so many people walking to and from the park." (Did he suggest they would welcome bike traffic? NOPA bicyclists are looking for regular meeting spots for monthly rides).

Great that the Matching Half looks and feels so good and the owners and staff are so friendly, but what's to eat drink and eat? A morning stop for the premium drip coffee (roasted by Verve of Santa Cruz) makes the workday ahead seem manageable. A bottle of Lost Coast, Blue Moon, or Momma's Little Yella Pils takes the lunch-time edge off those morning meetings. And the House Red (Mas North Coast Red Blend) or a Tomei Cellars Zinfandel (Shenandoah Valley) smooths out the afternoon's rough spots nicely. Morning sweets and sandwiches all look great, but they await my next visit. Don't wait; find out yourself and welcome our newest neighbors.

Matching Half Cafe, 1700 McAllister at Baker, 415 674-8699
Open 7am weekdays, 8 am weekends
till 6pm Sun & Mon; 8pm Tuesday to Thursday
till 9pm or 10pm, Friday and Saturday

1 comment:

  1. This place is awesome. Pleasant people, pleasant interior/views. And best of all, barrista Anna knows how to make espresso drinks. She takes the time and care needed to make a rich delicious drink. I don't go anywhere else now.