"I drink, therefore I am," reads the logo for another installment of Chicago's popular Cafe Descartes coffeehouse, the saying a clever take on the 17th century philosopher's most quotable phrase (although, ironically, it's a hypothesis Descartes probably would have rejected). This Loop version on the popular oatmeal-lovin' UIC and Lincoln Square coffee chain is designed much the same as its predecessors, a European-style cafe with a few modern flourishes and a plethora of huge leather recliners.
Regular coffee here will usually run you between $2 and $3, and the fresh brew manages to be stiff without being bitter. The other latte, espresso, and gelato concoctions will go into the $3-$5 range, with the oatmeal latte being the chain's signature drink, a mix of espresso and oats and fruits – a delightful meal in and of itself. Not in a coffee mood? A wide variety of San Pellegrino products are available for your mineral water needs, as well as little 8-ounce glass bottles of Coca-Cola and Sprite that are, quite frankly, the cutest bottles of pop you will ever see.
In addition to the "I drink, therefore I am" pun that greets customers, there are a few other decorations that playfully touch on the philosophical theme: Black and white paintings of history's greatest minds – Nietzsche, Hobbes, Aristotle – surround the room with intellectual prowess, while a scale of justice sitting on the counter appears to ask which dessert presented the better deposition for pure satisfaction: the Rice Krispie treats or the scones? In a part of town where you could get stampeded by shoppers or businessmen at any given moment, this is an oasis for those wishing to sit back, sip on a latte, and casually look out the window to the exhausting hustle and bustle of an external world that may or may not exist outside of our flawed sensory perceptions.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Andy Seifert