Lunch Box : Carlisle Coffee Company
Situated in the Stonehedge Shopping Center, scrunched between a Subway and a pizza shop, the Carlisle Coffee Company appears at first to be just another storefront. It isn’t. Walk through the doors into a large room with nicely spaced tables and chairs, leather couches for relaxing or watching the unobtrusive flat panel TV, an electric fireplace, computers for customer usage, and of course, the smell of coffee. Pass the bookcases filled with old coffee tins and other antiques, and the specials board to the large counter, and read the extensive menu of soups, salads, open-faced melts, wraps, paninis, soft pretzel sandwiches, combo meals, and coffee and espresso drinks. Although the menu contains standard lunch offerings, each item seems to have an additional ingredient that makes it a cut above the usual.
On a rainy spring afternoon, I opted for a combo meal, the cup of soup and half salad ($7.85), and my partner ordered a Pig & Poultry Panini ($7.99). We poured ourselves a cup of coffee ($1.70 each), a Costa Rican roast and an East Asia roast, and seated ourselves at a table where we could gaze at the photographic display (done by local artists and changing monthly) on the walls. Although the Costa Rican was billed as the lighter roast, it had more flavor and body than the East Asia, which was smooth but not bold.
Like the décor, lunch was appealing but not overdone. The Fiesty Carrot Soup, one of the soups of the day, was colorful combination of carrot and onion slivers in a light carrot and vegetable broth, the kind that grows tastier with each mouthful. The Spinach Portabella Salad, with its dice of grilled portabella mushrooms, snappy sliced almonds, succulent mandarin oranges, velvety sun-dried raisins, crisp baby spinach and sweet poppy seed dressing, was the perfect partner for the slightly salty soup. The sliver of cheesy flatbread served with the salad was limp and chewy, but flavorful.
For Panini aficionados, the Pig & Poultry Panini, a Café menu staple, is not to be missed. Smoked turkey, ham, swiss cheese, roasted red peppers and crisp bacon—a delicious combination of textures and flavors—were melded together on crisply grilled sourdough bread and accompanied by a pickle and potato chips. The meal was nicely presented on a colorful dinner plate.
Dessert offerings were limited (primarily cheesecakes). We selected a slice of chocolate mousse pie ($3.50) to share. The mousse was fluffy but not outrageously rich; the chocolate crust could have used more body. And the pie would have benefitted from either a raspberry or strawberry drizzle, or at least a dollop of cream.
Price of for lunch for two with tax came to $24.10.
The café is open seven days a week, serving breakfast and lunch, for on-site or takeout. Parking in the shopping center lot is not a problem.
Reviewed by RD | May 2013