Several years ago, my husband and I took a cooking class at the Marketplace Cafe. We enjoyed the meal and, ever since, I’ve been meaning to make it back in for lunch. So one Saturday, we finally made it happen! Walking through the doors you enter into the small shop area where we had our cooking class. Past that the is main cafe area with a counter at the back. Off to one side is a small room with additional seating. Seeing the counter, I assumed that’s where we would order and headed that way, saying hello to a staff member as I passed. It took my husband’s gentle redirection to realize that the friendly staff member was trying to seat us. Whoops. He gave us our choice of tables, so we opted to sit in the small side room.
The walls were painted in soothing colors–pale blue, warm brown, light green–with white trim. Decor consisted of bright collages, paintings with quotes, and collections of dishes. The tables had glass tops and upon each was a small bud vase with a few large leaves. Our napkins were thin and soft, feeling more like large Kleenex than your standard paper napkins.
Our server appeared, bringing menus and asking what we would like to drink. I asked about tea and was told they had sweet and unsweet. I was disappointed a few moments later when I flipped over my menu and discovered that they served both hot and cold Piper and Leaf tea. Yes, it was more expensive than the fountain tea, but had I known about it, I would have ordered it.
After pondering the menu, we settled on a Lemon Rosemary Hummus appetizer to split, a Sweet Harvest Pig panini for me and an Apple Jack panini for the hubby. We both selected fruit for our sides.
Our appetizer appeared quickly. The chips were delicious–thin and light, salted, with a nice crunch. The hummus was creamy and cool with a strong rosemary flavor. As is often the way with dip based appetizers, we had more chips than hummus for them.
Our meals came out soon after we finished our appetizer. Both my husband and I were surprised to find that the meals included salads. Reviewing the menu shows that they do list a “spring mix”, but apparently neither of us saw this when ordering.
My sandwich, shown above, featured thin, sweet apple slices, gooey cheese, and moist shredded pork with a lightly sweet seasoning. Compressed in a panini press, the exterior of the bread had a crunchy layer and had been generously salted. Overall it was salty, crunchy, and just a bit sweet. It was delicious.
My fruit salad was surprisingly varied (and tasty) for winter. The strawberries were sweet and almost perfectly ripe, the pineapple was fresh and juicy. The blueberries didn’t match peak summer berries but they were fully respectable. The small, red grapes were a touch sour, but not unbearably so.
All sauces are served on the side, so I wasn’t quite sure if the container in my basket was my sandwich’s sauce or dressing for my salad. I think it was the sandwich sauce, but it could probably be used for either as the greens were undressed. Come to think of it, perhaps you were supposed to add both the greens and the sauce to the sandwich?
Regardless, my “rosemary maple dijon sauce” was quite tasty. I picked up more on notes of apple and vinegar than maple or dijion, so I’m not sure quite what was going on there, but this was sauce I would happily buy by the bottle-full.
Another surprise cast member was the dill pickle spear. Crunchy, vinegary but not sharp, it was a nice but not necessary addition.
My husband enjoyed his sandwich (shown at the top of this post), especially the tender chicken and quality bread, but he found the exterior salting to be a bit heavy handed for his taste. His basil aioli was also served on the side, so I stole a taste. Incredibly creamy and packed full of super fresh basil flavor, it was delicious.
The food at Marketplace Cafe was delicious. Our sandwiches featured wonderfully orchestrated flavors and the accompanying sides were fresh. Unfortunately, the service during our visit was haphazard–we had multiple servers with no apparent coordination. We would be approached almost immediately with the same questions and then left for long stretches. It felt as though we did not have an assigned server, just workers who would notice us and pop over, afraid we were stranded. To complicate matters, after we seated ourselves, another party joined us in the small room and we quickly realized the acoustics just did not work for more than one table. Despite the fact that the other table was not being loud or distracting, I found it difficult to hear my husband over their conversation. I would try them again, but I think I would opt to sit in the main dining area to see if that alleviated both issues.
Total for the meal: $33.79 (includes two sandwiches, one hummus appetizer, and two fountain drinks)