Admittedly, Ascension's new location is killer. In the heart of Uptown just a quick walk from the nightlife, high-price apartments and office buildings, the sheer number of people addicted to caffeine or hunting down lunch are likely to see Ascension's chicken manchego panini and slow-roasted coffees as desirable options, particularly when compared with the endless chain sandwich shops and burrito peddlers. But it seems a little odd that Ascension's bunkmates are a Starbucks across the small courtyard and the grab-and-go bakery chain Au Bon Pain.
"You come here for different things," says Ascension's owner Russell Hayward. "We're built on people coming in and talking and communicating, while Starbucks is more built for the on-the-go customer."
Ascension, both in its original and this second location, is a welcome deviation from the trendy coffee house. While you can easily grab a coffee to go here, it has more of a restaurant or European cafe feel than a place to post up with your laptop on a work day. A friendly waiter meets you at a table with a carafe of water and will bring you anything from a cup of coffee to a full meal. The coffee comes in standard drink types like cappuccinos and lattes, while also catering to coffeeheads who might be looking for Kyoto cold brews or single-origin pour-overs. If your sweet-tooth aches, there's a huge supply of Compartes chocolate bars. All of these elements remain intact at the Uptown location, plus a surprise or two.
Perhaps the best addition to the Crescent location is the cigar bar. If you're hoping to light up with your cappuccino, this is your new joint. Grab a cigar from the case or stop by on one of the dedicated cigar nights and puff away on the spacious patio.
Ascension, 200 Crescent Court. Opens at 7 a.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. weekends.