Wake Up Coffee Café
Bird’s Nest Pastry
Chocolate Chip Blondie
Having driven past the small Charleston storefront daily for nearly five months it was finally this Saturday that I decided to stop in at Wake Up Coffee Café, the husband-and-wife owned Armenian bakery greeting myself and a pair of local police officers with hot beverages and breakfast savorires alongside a tempting display of cakes, cookies, and pastries ranging several continents and cultures. Allowing the cops to go first as I browsed the options with the enviable task of spending a $20 gift certificate I was immediately taken aback by the low prices displayed below each item and fortunately en route to a brief morning meeting my selections ran a nine item gamut, the total bill a mere $21.45 and only a soggy cannoli and overly sweet baba proving anything less than impressive. Admittedly a touch slow in service as the owner tended to both the café and drive-thru it was with a warm fig strudel that my Wake Up tasting began and with shattering layers around sweet fruit my hopes for the rest soared, the boxed options experienced two hours later with much sharing and praise from my two colleagues but the glut of the bounty left to me. Trending light to rich alongside bold coffee both the macaroon-crisp walnut roll and reinterpreted napoleon offered serious textural contrast overlying mild flavors while traditional takes on the chocolate chip strewn blondie and dense baklava rivaled the city’s best – a sentiment I can only assume to be true of the novel cream-meets-crunch Bird’s Nest and a condensed milk sweetened graham and walnut butter “Honeymoon Cake” similar to the more appropriately titled “Dream” Cake at Manan.
THREE AND A HALF STARS: A first generation Armenian immigrant couple turning out excellent ethnic pastries in a cozy room with a convenient drive-thru at bargain basement prices. The “American Dream” in a city full of dreamers.
RECOMMENDED: Honeymoon Cake, Bird’s Nest, Baklava.
AVOID: Cream filled selections like the cannoli or baba as they are made the night prior and prone to ‘sog.’
TIP: Currently offering $10 restaurant.com certificates (must spend $20) and soon to launch a Groupon, though low prices for good quality should not dissuade a full price visit.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor