I’ve forgotten how busy coffee shops can be in the middle of the day – especially when they serve food this good. There was a long line to order - which gave me plenty of time to check out the menu. They have a lot more choices than what is written on the wall of ceramic plates. It’s laminated and in a magazine holder near the cash register. When they are busy, please take a look at it. The barista was very happy with me when I knew exactly what I wanted and I was happy for the compliment. :-)
I went for the chicken salad sammich with the sesame noodle salad. The baguette had a fresh crunch and was filled full with a hearty chicken salad with grapes, celery and some baby greens. I loved the grapes in the chicken salad – adding great texture and brightness. This was so much food, especially when paired with their noodle salad. I usually go the side salad when I eat in because I like their tangy house dressing – but the sesame noodle salad travels a little better. I am not a huge fan of sesame noodles in general; It is not normal go to. But, it sure is at Carma’s. The cold noodles are lightly dressed with your classic sesame sauce. This one is lighter on the peanut flavor – which highlights the sesame, chili and green onions.
These guys are great and don’t get nearly enough attention with some of the bigger chains nearby. The cafe inside is on the smaller side, so it fills up quickly, but they have tons of outdoor seating for when the weather is nice.
Remind me to go here next time when I am in a rush – they hade twice the number of folks in line and I was in and out in less than half the time of some other cafes.
We walked in for lunch. This place was bustling. The vibe is charming while being slightly industrial with the tall ceilings, open layout, gray colors, and iron decor.
We snagged two seats at the bar, which brings me to Omar Semidey–chef, owner, operator, visionary–a welcoming, dapper gentleman. He was super friendly and happily took his time to walk is through the menu and his vision of moving “the culinary landscape just a few degrees at a time”. I loved his openness; the lunchtime chat definitely enhanced the meal. I very rarely pass up a Brussels sprouts dish on the menu – and this is no exception. When I ordered it, he says, “you guys know they are raw, right?” I laughed, but he apparently has to ask because it gets sent back all the time. I certainly wouldn’t want to have fingers near the mandolin if the Brussels were roasted; I don’t even know how that would work. The raw shaved sprouts are crunchy and tossed in a creamy citrusy dressing with crisp, tart green apples, chopped almonds and sweet golden raisins.
Next, came this outrageously huge pork sandwich for less than $10. The pork – slow roasted does not begin to describe it. This speaks directly to their approachable, yet clearly refined and thoughtful food. They flavor the shoulder meet with their special dry rub for two days. Then, it is roasted for another 8 or so hours. My sammie comes with pickled red onions, some fresh sharp frisée, and thick slices of pork that has taken almost three days to craft. Chef then slathers my fresh toasted baguette with a spicy aioli and garnishes with cilantro. Oh – one more thing – those are house made chips with salt, pepper, and oregano.
I must agree with all my friends who have told me they are doing a phenomenal job with traditional food in an upscale and approachable way.
Go here. I’m not kidding. Go here, now.
Oh Bistro Rx, where do I start. They are cute and have an innovative menu – that can involve things like kangaroo. There is usually parking since they are not right on the square, but it is an easy walk from Canton or Fells. I’ve been for dinner a few times and find them a little over rated. Prices are a little high and the food and service is mediocre – generally most are satisfied, but is generally one person in my party who is a little disappointed.
Despite this, I took the advice of a friend of mine who feels the same way about dinner, but raves about their brunch. My opinion might be starting to change – food is spot on and affordable. They serve local coffees from High Grounds, on the other side of the park. They also do bottomless mimosas, bloody’s, and screwdrivers by the pitcher. We didn’t go that route; I was much more interested in the coffee.
My friends favorite and the most popular order at the table was the Katzenjammer Hash. They serve their crispy-outside, soft-inside potatoes in a skillet amongst a trio of pork products–scrapple, bacon, and sausage (it might be andouille)–which add a spicy kick to the whole dish. They must have a very special griddle back there and they have mastered crispy edges without overcooking anything. And if that isn’t enough they top that with two perfectly poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.
The sausage and biscuits were also a hit – spicy sausage with a creamy gravy and their house made biscuits.
I went with my brunch staple – the Benedict A La Bistro. I liked these. The prosciutto was crispy and offered the perfect amount of saltiness for the creamy poached eggs and the hollandaise. Instead of smothering the potatoes, the eggs topped a buttery crusty muffin. I still got to try the potatoes; they were good, crunchy outsides and spiced with peppers and onions. I think the hollandaise could use a little more flavor and spice, but it was lemony and superbly creamy.
Best part is they are starting brunch on Saturday. A fellow blogger has been for dinner and likes it a little more than me.
* this post had a little help from friend Matt Baker.