For three years, I frequently visited the perfect café for studying, socializing, unexpectedly running into friends, and enjoying a quiet moment away from the business of the Concordia campus. Unfortunately, upon returning to school after the summer, I was quite disturbed to discover that they had moved to a location closer to McGill. In mourning for Hestia, I decided to embark on a journey to find a similar spot for my final year. This past week, I might have found it.
On Monday, a friend and I tucked into Café Aunja, located on Sherbrooke Street, mere steps from the Hall building. The first thing that struck me was how adorable the interior was. From the myriad of flyers tacked to a corkboard by the door, to the strings of lights attached to the ceiling, the exposed brick walls, and the lush green plants, I was sold. We settled at a two-person table near the door, shrugged off our coats, happy to be in the warmth. Pausing by a bookshelf boasting jars of loose-leaf tea, my attention was drawn to a chalkboard. On it was an advertisement for a special beverage called a “Persian Fog.” Topped with pistachios, flavoured with saffron sweetener, and with a base of Persian tea, I decided to be adventurous and try it.
While my friend opted for a safer, yet equally delicious beverage of ginger tea served in a clear glass mason jar and actual with sprigs of mint inside, I am thrilled to report that my spur of the moment choice was a success. This spontaneous decision making is entirely out of character for me. Usually, if I am in charge of picking a restaurant, I will look up the menu online and select what I intend to order before leaving the house. But, I may have to change my policy after letting Café Aunja pleasantly surprise me.
The atmosphere is also noteworthy. There were students studying, young couples chatting over steaming lattes, and sweet-toothed groups tucking into orange and coconut cake all around us. It was quiet enough to hear each other speak, yet filled with the pleasant buzz of other people taking shelter on a chilly winter afternoon.
Even the service impressed me. As fundamentally anxious people, my friend and I hovered near our table wondering whether we should move to fetch our beverages or keep our ears turned towards the bar hoping to hear our orders pass through the lips of the barista. But luckily for us, before long, the barista strode over to us and delivered our beverages with a flourish: from a silver platter.
Though the prices were a little steep, I paid about the price of a Grande specialty latte from Starbucks for a smaller size, the quality and feel of Café Aunja more than makes up for the cost. The next time the library is driving you crazy, or you want to meet up with a friend, consider Café Aunja at 1448 Sherbrooke Street West.