Cuisine and scene: La Baguette is a well-known brand in local grocery stores and on restaurant menus, even for custom loaves at such eateries as nearby Tot. By contrast, La Baguette's companion coffeehouse, Hardware Cafe, flies under the radar in a no-frills storefront in Ashland's Railroad District. If the ambiance seems like an afterthought, the cafe's abbreviated hours and menu revolve around the baking operation, which makes this a warm refuge once mornings turn chilly. Locals also know Hardware Cafe as an informal gallery space and venue for live music, as a piano in the corner and guitars and banjo on the wall attest.
Recommended: Any pastry — cinnamon rolls, scones, bear claws — or bagel ordered by 8 a.m. still hot from the oven; bagels stuffed with cream cheese, mozzarella or chicken are a unique, portable-snack concept.
Alternative diets: Vegetarian pizza options; organic coffees available.
Beverages: Full slate of coffee drinks; hot chocolate, teas, natural sodas and juices.
Price range: Pastries, $1.50 to $2.75; stuffed bagels, $2.50 to $3; pizza by the slice, $2.75 to $3.25; eggs with toast or bagel, $3.75 to $4.25.
Extras: Live music from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for first Fridays; free drink refills on premises; pastry selection very limited near closing; cash or check only; free wireless.
Serving: From 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Info: 340 A St., Ashland; 541-488-5902.
— Sarah Lemon