When I visit a new bakery and coffee shop, I typically keep my expectations in check. Making pastries and pulling good espresso shots require a deft hand and attention to detail, and those are not in evidence at most of the bustling coffee shops I've visited.
At Sweet Simone's, though, my first cappuccino (a double shot for $3.95) was just right, and an indulgent coconut cupcake was tender and delicious.
Now, I drop in nearly every time I pass through Richmond. It's a frequent occurrence, as I prefer Route 2 to the interstate. Occasionally I'll have a sweet thing with my coffee — a sticky bun, a piece of coffee cake, a pâte de fruit. But more often I order a bagel and lox. The sandwich, which costs $6.75, comes on a homemade bagel (plain, sesame, everything or Cabot cheddar) with salmon, cream cheese, capers and shallots. Sometimes, the bagel is still warm from the oven.
If salmon doesn't float your boat, the café offers reasonably priced soups and sandwiches, plus flatbread with a variety of toppings, and slices of frittata.
Other things recommend Sweet Simone's, as well. It has the vibe of a happening place but isn't uncomfortably busy. The space is nice and sunny, has plenty of seating, and the local art on the walls changes frequently. Plus, the staff is friendly and helpful; I've had pleasant conversations with several of the people who work there.
Done with my writing … and now it's time to go to Sweet Simone's!