This Saturday, after spending most of spring break blissfully neglectful of my upcoming assignments, I decided to find a cozy coffee shop in which to at least attempt to get work done. My sister and I decided on the Lyndale Vicinity Coffee Bar, as we wanted to try somewhere new and were staying at our house in Minneapolis. I had been to the Vicinity space before, but at that time it was Bull Run Coffee Bar. Inside, the minimalist decor and contemporary vibe retained the feel of the old shop, but the food offerings suggested that changes had been made during the transition.
Online, Vicinity claims to serve a wide variety of meal and snack options, and from what I can remember, Bull Run could boast the same. This Saturday, the refrigerator case — that should have been stocked with sandwiches and yogurts — remained empty, and $5 gluten free cookie bites were the only edible item on display. Having missed lunch, my sister was willing to try them, albeit against the recommendation of the barista. Even in her ravenous state, the cookies were too dry to handle. We ultimately had to leave earlier than we wanted in order to head to my sister’s favorite restaurant and Southdale Mall staple, Ruby Tuesdays.
Vicinity’s drink menu contains most of the old Bull Run favorites, such as the standard drip coffees, teas and espresso drinks. Knowing we would stay there awhile, my sister and I both ordered tea for there ($2.75), and later, lattes to go. I ordered a Montana Gold Tea, as I do pretty much anywhere it is available. If you haven’t tried this Minnesota staple and like sweet notes of cinnamon, try ordering it next time you find yourself in a hip local coffee shop. My sister went for a lemon ginger tea, but likened it to an overpriced cup of Celestial Seasonings’ “lemon zinger.” But I guess finding an extraordinary cup of plain brewed tea seems like an unrealistic expectation. We were, however, more than a little disappointed with our “graham cracker” lattes. I ordered the plain ($5.25), and she ordered a soy, both eight ounces. At $6 for the soy latte (a $0.75 upcharge for soy), it should have been pretty damn good. However, the graham cracker taste was non-existent until the very end of the drink. Both tasted like your average craft coffee latte, but with only one shot of espresso. The graham cracker revealed itself as a piling of crumbs at the bottom of the cup, which I initially mistook for coffee grounds.
What Vicinity lacks in menu quality, it makes up for in area. The shop extends to another room beyond the main store, with booths, standing space and small tables. It is by far the largest coffee shop I have visited thus far, with a calm energy to accompany the space. The interior design shared similar aesthetically-pleasing characteristics to joints around the Twin Cities, with the same ceiling tiles as Workhorse Coffee Bar. For weekend afternoons when the most popular coffee shops tend to lack available seating, Vicinity ended up being an adequate choice.
Vicinity Coffee is located at 3350 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis.