Walter Mencken 2 p.m., May 28
$10 Lunch: Cafe Cabaret
It’s official. I have a new love. My once-favorite, stay-all-day coffee shop in North Park has been replaced by Café Cabaret. It wasn’t intentional. I stopped in one day for a breakfast sandwich, thinking it would just be a one-time thing. But then I went back for lunch, and it was a done deal. My dear Nick from the old joint has now been replaced by Ghenet from the new one.
When I have meetings and errands to run during the day, I don’t mind if my drink stop doesn’t serve great food. But when I have several hours worth of work to do on my computer, I like to be someplace where I can order food along with my coffee.
Honestly, I’ve had it up to here with paninis, and sandwiches in general, really. But when you hang out in coffee shops, sandwiches are pretty much what you’re going to get for lunch. At Café Cabaret, however, I have found a $10 lunch that’s not only interesting and filling, but it also includes a drink.
We begin with a cup of soup ($3), made in house. What you see photographed here is veggie soup, with celery, zucchini, mushroom, onion, cabbage, and spinach. Not only is this soup tasty, but the portion is also generous. Yes, that is a piece of cheese floating on top, and I found it both distracting and annoying. In the times I have since ordered the soup, I have asked for it without cheese.
Then, there’s the sambusa, a pastry filled with savory delights. (One for $1.99, Three for $5.50, or five for $8.99) The one pictured here is a chicken sambusa. Other options are veggie and lentil. I’ve had them all, and all are equally flavorful. The only thing I would change about them if I could is the consistency of the filling. It’s a bit too smooth and creamy. I prefer more chunk and texture. But this isn’t enough to keep me from eating one each time I go in.
Again with the large portions and the fresh ingredients. The fruit salad ($2.99) isn’t some skimpy bowl of tasteless melon. The fruit is juicy, the chunks are big, and on occasion, Ghenet even throws some mango into the mix.
My drink of choice these days is an iced coffee ($2).
Total bill: $9.98