Plein Air Café & Eatery

Overall Rating: 7.850

Address: 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Cross Street(s): Btwn E 57th & E 58th Sts.
City, State ZIP: Chicago, IL 60637
Neighborhood: Hyde Park
Phone: 773.966.7531
Hours: M-F 7am-8pm; Sa-Su 8am-6pm
Type of Establishment: Cafe
Cafe Rating: 7.50
Barista: 8
Savvy: 8
Ambiance: 7
Presentation: 7
Consistency: N/A
Espresso Machine: La Marzocco
Coffee Rating: 8.20
Aroma: 7
Body: 9
Brightness: 9
Crema: 8
Flavor: 8
Taster's Correction: 0.0
Size: M
Primary Taste: Candy-like
Coffee Beans: Metric Coffee Co.
Cup Manufacturer: Front of the House
Price: $2.50
Last Update: 04/09/2015
First Reviewed: 04/09/2015
Notes: Coffee Sales; Outdoor Seating

This café is located in the middle of the University of Chicago campus, right next to the historic Robie House (Frank Lloyd Wright), inside a building shared with the campus CoOp Bookstore. A partnership between Soo Choi and Kevin Heisner (of Heisler Hospitality), they conceived it as "a French atelier-inspired café and eatery seeking to provide a warm, serene environment where guests can savor coffee, food, and design." For a campus café, and perhaps reflecting the well-heeled and intellectual UChicago demographic, it is often crowded with a mix of UChicago grad students, faculty and staff, and educational tourists (they do have some good museums on campus). Inside they offer several café tables, a couple of long shared tables, and a series of stools at a long window counter. Outdoor patio seating facing the Robie House also exists among wooden benches and tables when weather permits. They serve salads, soups, and baguette sandwiches along with coffee service from a pick-up window. Complimentary taps of cold, sparkling and still water you can pull in jelly jars. In the cramped space behind the service window glass (showing off the latest pastries), they operate a two-group La Marzocco GB/5. They sell Metric Coffee beans direct and use their Quantum Espresso to pull shots served properly short with a congealed, medium brown crema with darker brown spots. The shot is full-bodied, potent, and has an acid bite in the long finish over some herbal and molasses flavor notes. Served in a mismatch of ITI China saucers and decorative Front of the House demitasses with a thumb grip at the top. Milk-frothing here has good texture and exhibits decent latte art, but they are heavy-handed with the milk ratio on their cappuccino (served in Vertex mugs): stick with the double shots.