Big, satisfying sandwiches, named for locations around town, are still on the menu
Where to Roust Cafe on Mt. Auburn Street in Harvard Square.
Why To see what was going on in the former Darwin’s Ltd., a fixture since 1993.
The backstory Late last year, Darwin’s Ltd. owners Steven and Isabel Darwin closed their four Cambridge coffee and sandwich shops as workers voted to unionize. (There is an initiative by some former staffers to open a worker-owned cafe; they operate as the Circus Cooperative Cafe Crew on GoFundMe.) In February, the original Harvard Square location became Roust, owned by Valentin Hefco, who also owns Tokava in Jamaica Plain (drinks only). Roust’s manager is Mike Spires, who was the general manager when the space was Darwin’s. Where the old spot always seemed a little jammed and harried, Roust is more laid-back. Hefco and Spires are rolling it out slowly. The right-hand side of the storefront has 19 seats; as the weather warms, there will be more out front. The other has groceries, prepared foods, and eventually wine and beer when the license is transferred. Roust is “an invented name,” says Hefco. “I wanted to have a name of my own. I imagine that this name is to invite everyone in the morning for a cup of coffee and a bagel and a sandwich. Roust you out of bed with a cup of coffee.”
What to eat Pick a sandwich, all named for geographic locations in the area, and you’ll be delighted. Breads come from Iggy’s and Nashoba Brook. On the breakfast list, the Harvard Yard starts with toasted sourdough, and holds two eggs, bacon, cheddar, and avocado. Honestly, it’s enough for two, as are most of the choices. The Inman is built on seven-grain bread with eggs, red peppers, cheddar, and tomato. Lunch sandwiches include Darwin’s Mt. Auburn, the only combination exactly as it was before: turkey, Swiss, avocado, tomato, lettuce, mayo, and vinaigrette on sourdough. A delicious messy affair. The Highland stacks ham with pear, pickled onions, and arugula on toasted grainy bread. Hefco is smart to keep the menu short. Everything is nicely made, very satisfying.