At first glance, Dooby’s may seem like a typical coffee shop. There are patrons glued to their MacBooks at communal tables and hard-working baristas behind the long marble counter. But a deeper look reveals so much more. Besides the thoughtful, well-brewed coffee (both pour-over and drip), there is the added bonus of a liquor license for local beers and creative cocktails. And while the Charles Street cafe has the same ordering format as a Panera, it features the menu of a sophisticated bistro. It’s also open for all three meals—a rarity in this town. Its owner Phil Han, who opened Dooby’s last fall, is an innovator. He also conceived the Hatch, an adjacent basement space that provides entrepreneurs with a place to open their businesses temporarily—usually six-to-eight weeks—and test out their concepts. Examples, so far, have been an oyster cellar, a holiday shop with local vendors, and a home-décor shop.
When we visited Dooby’s on a Saturday afternoon, we started off with the soup of the day—a generous portion of French onion with just the right amount of caramelized-onion flavor. We also loved the mushroom melt, pictured, with an array of portobello, shiitake, and buttons with melted Gruyère and roasted red peppers on sourdough bread. The earthy ’shrooms blended well with the creamy nuttiness of the cheese and the hint of sweetness from the peppers, while the sourdough remained crisp and hearty. We added a picante-poblano spread (an extra 25 cents) for a little kick. The carnivore in me didn’t even notice this was a vegetarian sandwich.
Also on the menu is a well-executed bahn mi with tender pork belly, tangy pickled carrots, an unexpected but pleasant honey-hoisin sauce, and Sriracha mayo, all on a French baguette. It was delicious, though the sandwich was a tad greasy. A nice touch: All of the sandwiches are served with a side of greens and a light vinaigrette—a welcome substitute for chips or fries.
The Mt. Vernon spot was packed during our visit with UB students sipping coffee on their open laptops and families chatting away in the dining room. With its creativity—both in concept and cuisine—Dooby’s crowds aren’t subsiding any time soon.