Sidewalk Cafe offers simplistic satisfaction

Turkey, bacon, pesto, oh my!

I was recently invited down to the Sidewalk Cafe for a sampling of some food and soups. The café is a small discreet walk-in sandwich shop nestled on the edge of Capitol Way, between the Farmers Market and the Phoenix Inn.

At first smell, the Cafe’s warm and enticing aroma was an indication that I was welcome and at home. This was quickly followed by a warm greeting from the owner and proprietor, Sharen Herring.

With a sweeping gesture to the tables in front of me, I chose a place near a window, and was handed a single sided menu, with a small selection of items listed colorfully on the front. Maybe I was expecting more? A larger selection? Having worked in the restaurant industry for the last nine years, I’m used to bigger menus. Perhaps this small cafe was going to offer me more bang, more quality rather than quantity.

A glance at the menu told me everything I needed to know, a variety of food and every bit of it as interesting as the last. I quickly made my decisions and delivered them to Sharen – the Tuna Melt, the Chicken Salad Wrap, and finally, the cook’s preference on a third.

As I sat and snapped photos of the beautiful fall colors surrounding the front of the building, I had a moment to sneak in some words and questions with Sharen.

Were the salad dressings homemade? And the recipes? Where did the inspiration come from for some of these sandwiches?

I got all the right answers – all homemade, and when it comes to the inspirations, the customer knows best.

“The California Club used to be just a Turkey Bacon with mayo” said Herring. One day, a valued customer gave her some valuable input: why not add pesto? It has apparently become a hit.

As my mind pondered pesto, I realized I had made two fatal errors on this trip. Number one, I had failed to order the California Club and second, I had forgotten to order a cup of the Chicken Curry Soup.

Coming from a household obsessed with basil, pesto, and curry, this was a grievous error on my part. As the food was being brought out, I instantly approved of my selections, a beautiful green wrap stuffed with chicken salad and diced apples. How could I go wrong?

A bite was immediately followed up by a third, fourth, fifth, and before I knew it, half my sandwich was gone. I moved on to the tuna melt, which was cheesy, sweet and subtle in flavor. The third and final pick, the random selection, was as if pre-ordained by fate itself, the California Club! This was a real beauty, a “piece de la resistance” to my meal, and every bite better than the last.

As I leaned back in my steel grated chair, and rubbed my belly in satisfaction, I caught the view of the chicken curry soup, and my heart sank. The cook must have seen my forlorn face, because soon a cup was presented to me, and my spirits were lifted high on a cloud of sweet, sweet curry. All in all, the selection was incredible, and even though the menu was not as big as I was expecting, I got much more than I bargained for.

I tip my hat in favor of this wonderful local hangout, and I can say one thing for certain, they have not seen the last of me.