The Novel Kitchen offers a warm and welcoming extension to Brookline Booksmith



The Novel Kitchen offers a wide selection of gifts and food and is a welcome addition to the beloved bookstore.

Tucked into a corner of the Brookline Booksmith, a stylish cafe called The Novel Kitchen is the beloved bookstore’s newest addition. The cafe is built on the premise of making artisanal foods more easily accessible by serving them in bento boxes that are designed for a takeout experience. Primarily, The Novel Kitchen deserves credit for its carefully crafted aesthetic that charmingly compliments the bookstore it stems from.

Upon entering the cafe, we immediately noticed the tiny white light bulbs that hung festively from the ceiling. Decorating the walls are sleek wooden frames that encase book quotes from the likes of James Baldwin and Virginia Woolf. The chalkboard with handwritten messages, along with the house plants and string of balloons at the entrance, add a personal touch to the elegant white walls and light wood floors. A shelf lined with picture books at the front makes the cafe feel like a very natural pairing to Brookline Booksmith.

The Novel Kitchen is a collaborative effort between Curds & Co. owner Jenn Mason and the Brookline Booksmith. Unlike many other restaurants, it was designed during the pandemic, and opened on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. The restaurant supports local businesses in the Boston area like Just Hummus and Chocolate Therapy by selling their foods to Booksmith’s many customers.

Bookshelves topped with plexiglass separate merchandise from the displays of food. When we went, indoor dining was allowed. There was a maximum capacity of 16 people, but we didn’t see anyone eating inside, which was reassuring due to our concerns about COVID-19’s spread through indoor dining. The restaurant serves everything in boxes and paper bags anyway, so there is not much lost by opting for takeout.

The cafe offers a small but unique selection of plates and snacks that are seasonally curated. At the moment, they are serving a cheese plate ($19.90), a mezze plate and a vegan mezze plate ($18.90 and $15.90, respectively) as well as a smoked salmon plate ($19.90).

We got the vegan mezze plate, which included paprika hummus, pickled onions, cooked cauliflower and carrots, olives, almonds and crackers. The paprika added an interesting flavor to the hummus, and the flatbread crackers tasted like they were freshly baked. Overall, the food was good, but not necessarily worth the high prices.

The Novel Kitchen seems to capitalize more on the experience than the food itself, so part of what you pay for is the charismatic atmosphere and the thoughtfully created aesthetic of the entire cafe, and for some, this may make it worth the money.

The Novel Kitchen also sells a few gourmet desserts, including the Booksmith Cookie, which features dried cherries, chopped dates, candied ginger and chocolate chips. The combination of the different fruit flavors was not our favorite, but we appreciated the lower cost ($3) compared to their other foods. We also bought two chocolate bars that were each $4.95. Our favorite of the two had dark chocolate and peanut butter, which was both light and delicious. The other had dark chocolate and cayenne pepper, which surprised us with a slightly spicy aftertaste but was still tasty. Try pairing any of their chocolate bars with popcorn––trust us, the combination is perfect.

In addition to the foods and snacks served, The Novel Kitchen offers a wide variety of housewares and giftable objects. Sweaters, scarves, blankets and hats are placed towards the entrance. As we walked farther into the store, beautifully crafted bowls and candles made way for puzzles and calendars. We found that it was especially thoughtful for the store to have put wrapping paper close to the registers.

The open flow of the restaurant made it feel like a welcome extension of the Booksmith. Even with the pricier foods, we can easily see it becoming a go-to spot for studying or hanging out with friends after the end of the pandemic.