Up the Road

Up the Road

Walking into Crossroads, an eco-conscious coffeehouse and bakery in North Haven, the smell of coffee welcomed me as sunlight poured across a wall of framed mirrors. A painted map in back had Crossroads at its center, and real and faux plants, lights on strings and quirky knickknacks added softer touches throughout.

I asked 24-year-old owner Montana Telman to recommend one of the four wraps currently on offer, and her answer was the Honey Chicken ($8.50). Eaten later at home, the grilled chicken, lightly dressed in honey mustard, was tender and delicious, and the fixings—red onions, tomato and mixed greens, sans the usual Swiss—provided brightness and also crunch, as did a side of potato chips.

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Next I sipped on what Telman identified as the cafe’s most popular smoothies: the Tropical Sunrise ($8.50) and the Peanut Butter Cup ($8.75). The first, made from orange juice, banana, mango, pineapple, fresh ginger and chia seeds, was sweet and zingy, and it was fun trying to pick out each of the fruity flavors. The Peanut Butter Cup, featuring oat milk, bananas, dates, vanilla, peanut butter, cacao powder and mushroom powder, tasted just like you’d think—and just like you’d want.

I also tried coffee and dessert: a cup of joe flavored with black sesame syrup ($2.65) and a gluten-free corn cookie ($2.25). The crispy cookie, baked onsite like all the items in the cafe’s bakery case, was buttery-crumbly like shortbread with a caramel edge, and the syrup gave the coffee mysterious depths.

Syrups are signature at Crossroads, and the selection is frequently updated, driven in part by the cafe’s monthly drink specials. One of February’s was called the Aphrodite’s Kiss—a rose and lemon myrtle latte with rose whipped cream, which actually made use of two syrups. Photos of monthly drinks as well as an evolving assortment of baked goods can be found on the cafe’s Instagram. Compact breakfast and lunch menus focused on quiches, wraps and salads also change seasonally.

Then there’s the smoothie menu, developed by Crossroads manager Taylor Adams. Telman says the top half “tastes like ice cream” (and it sounds like it too, with names including Mint Chocolate Chip and that Peanut Butter Cup), while the rest highlights fruit. All the “ice cream” smoothies are made with oat milk, the only alternative milk used at Crossroads, because it consumes less water to produce.

Ecological concerns drive many other decisions, made with help from environmental consultant Tess Palluzzi. Each menu has at least one vegan option, and Telman says she tries to limit food waste—her “biggest gripe” with the restaurant industry—by baking in small batches. All the to-go containers are compostable except for the coffee cups, which are recyclable, though Telman is looking for a compostable version. Behind the scenes, Telman uses only non-disposable bakeware, including silicone baking mats instead of rolls of parchment paper, and Crossroads does composting of its own, in the spring and fall.

Of course, when you’re inside Crossroads having a meal or a beverage, you’re not likely thinking about the cafe’s composting practices. You might even be making a new friend. According to Telman, casual meeting spaces in North Haven are few, and she’s been thrilled when people who live on the same street have met for the first time in her coffeehouse, which apparently really is a crossroads.

1878 Hartford Tpke, North Haven (map)
Mon-Wed 7am-4pm, Thurs-Fri 7am-6pm, Sat 8am-6pm, Sun 8am-4pm
(203) 397-6398

Written and photographed by Heather Jessen.

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