Coffeehouse chow can be pretty depressing--after all, no matter how high octane the java, how many bland turkey wraps and indifferent muffins can one be expected to endure? Common Ground, however, matches righteous joe with right-on baked goods, plus creative homemade soups that stand up to winter, look it in the eye, and spit--from garlicky tomato herb to vegetarian chili and all sorts of other yummy potages at a bargain $2.75 per bowl. And the soups change each day, an additional incentive to leave the house when it's five degrees outside.
Muffins ($1.75 most varieties) and other baked breakfast treats are marvelous: buttery, berry-bursting, and tender-crumbed. Desserts are the true standout, though--the best bread pudding in Baltimore ($3.50) and an ever-changing array of pies ($3.50/slice) that never fail to demonstrate Common Ground's baker knows a thing or two about pastry.
If only this gifted little café knew when to quit. Dinner is available on weekends, and though the menu sounds oh-so-promising--osso buco ($16.95), shrimp with asparagus in a saffron cream sauce over farfalle ($14.95)--the kitchen's reach exceeds its grasp. Too bad. The staff's ambition is admirable, but truly, it's much harder to find solidly excellent coffeehouse fare than decent osso buco. We already love you for what you do so well every day of the week, Common Ground. You don't need to go uptown on Saturday nights to impress us.