I ate at the Big Water Cafe this past weekend, Aug 7-8, 2010 and met one of the owners. It is run by a husband and wife, she is vegetarian. The place has a decent atmosphere, they have finished a lot of remodeling to expand the space for more seating. The entry and order area gets quite crowded as it is not layed out well and does not flow when the morning AM coffee rush comes in between 630am and 9am.
They roast and brew their own coffee onsite, they have new coffees they are brewing each morning. There is usually one light, one dark, and one decaf. They have soy milk but you need to ask for it (each time). For an 8oz coffee out of a carafe, its costs $1.65 and up to $1.95 for a 16oz. You can get refills for 50cents each. Once you get a coffee to enjoy there, it is a problem to get a to-go cup if you want to take it with. It is suggested you buy another cup for take out. The coffee is quite good, but the problem is they constantly are running out as they brew one carafe at a time and then the carafe is deplenished by those standing around from the previous round. They really need to buy more and brew more carafes and prep more for the rush periods. For what they get for a cup of coffee, they can afford more carafes. If a Star Bucks or Carabou coffee comes to town, they would have some serious competition to deal with.
The menus is short, but decent. I went with two other non-vegetarians, and I had the portabella mushroom sandwich for about $8.95 The servers (guy who stands behind the order counter) dont quite know what is all involved with the vegan diet, you have to educate them and its a lot of back and forth to find out what you can or cannot enjoy. The portabella sandwhich comes with a pesto and feta, marinated tomato spread, so you have to remove the pesto (non-vegan cheese) and feta and to insure no butter, etc to make it vegan. I cant tell you if the bread was completely vegan, it was too much of an ordeal when you are hungry. It had good deal of flavor and a kick of spice, its was accompanied by chips.
My non-veggie friends had the Club BLT and she said the bacon was really good. My other friend had the scramble breakfast wrap and it was tasty to him but not a great value.
As a vegetarian option, they also have a hummus wrap, but not vegan. They offer a black bean burrito, but you need to remove the cheese and other ingredients (basically strip it to beans, brown rice and salsa) and pay the same amount. The problem I have is, you offer hummus and other options, why not suggest you can substitute to keep the value higher?
In any regards, they are happy to remove any items if you desire.
They offer patio seating to watch the busy goings on street side, or a backyard patio for a more quite atmosphere, but were good. The bathrooms would not meet handicapped codes. You have to bus your own plates, there are bins for dropping your used plates off.
The next morning I had the superior granola (with nuts and seeds) with soy milk for $5.95. They said it had fresh berries as well (in season all over town) which were not included (this was a $1 more than the reg. superior granola they serve on the menu). I didnt bring up the missing berries. The granola had a good taste.
Again, they ran out of coffee and everyone sat in the order area like cattle waiting for the feed, about 25 people watching the drip of the brewing machine.
The owner just kept taking orders while the brewing machine ran. Eventually everyone got their coffee.
The last morning I went to the new EGG restaurant for breakfast but up to the Big Water for coffee as the new EGG does not have soy milk. I was able to get a coffee right away, and bought one small and one large to go.
Overall, I give it a good rating. The food is decent enough, and particularly better than a normal coffee shop. But if they made a better value or had lower prices for what you got, and didnt make everyone wait so long for coffee during the busier known rush times, I would have said it was excellent. All in all, when I go back to Bayfield, I'll stop in again. Hopefully it will be even better!