Review: Cafe Bassam adds a shot of Old World to San Diego

By Nicole Burdette
City Times

On the corner of Fourth and Market and just a hop, skip and jump away from the main street of San Diego’s Gaslamp District, CafÇ Bassam has served coffee connoisseurs since 1991.

The ambience is that of a quaint European cafÇ complete with impressionist paintings and an impressive gun collection displayed on the walls. An awe-inspiring assortment of loose leaf tea sprawls over a good deal of the counter space, and in the corner an old mahogany piano beckons musicians.

Every other week, it’s put to good use for opera night. A slew of quaint tables entice customers to pull up a chair with a companion and take in the old world charm. There are an array of indie magazines and newspapers lined along the bar, giving the solo adventurer the opportunity to pick up some information along with a latte.

Since CafÇ Bassam is a registered smoke shop, smoking inside is allowed. This may be undesirable for non smokers, but the open layout and ceiling fans keep the air circulating and the smoke from being overwhelming and irritating.

In a society where something like a “double tall two raw sugar, extra hot, no foam latte” is common, the simplistic layout of Bassam’s menu is refreshing – coffee $2.50, lattes $3-3.50, Chai lattes $3. The pastries sit subtly to the side of the cash register, but these treats are remarkable. An elephant ear paired with a chai latte is contentment for the tummy.

As of early spring, Bassam will no longer be a staple of the Gaslamp. In November of 2006, the 20th Century building was sold to Chris Eddy of San Diego.

Allegedly, Eddy expressed to cafÇ owner Bassam Shamma that he wanted more than double the rent Bassam pays now.

The new location will be on Cedar, a considerable distance from the established location. With an unusual flair and unfaltering quality, CafÇ Bassam is sure to move along with some loyal customers. It’s also an opportunity to build an even larger consumer base.

Whether in the area or in search of a new spot to hit the books, Bassam is a stop that is worth making.

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Review: Cafe Bassam adds a shot of Old World to San Diego