SARATOGA SPRINGS — The towers of books on the piano, the coffee table, and other flat surfaces in our living room have disappeared for now; husband Eric just brought home another bookcase.
And if you need to decide whether you have room for that book you’ve been eyeing at the Northshire Bookstore, have a bite to eat at the cafe attached to the store and think it over.
As if the bookstore here needed any enhancement, there’s a winsome cafe adjacent where you can have a light meal or something sweet to eat. The Around The Corner Cafe is just that from the bookstore on one side, and Kilwin’s ice cream and chocolate shop on the other.
The leather sofa and rocking chairs at Around The Corner give the dining area a living room vibe, separated from the counter by a tidy service area. There’s a patio with umbrella tables outside the plate glass, but your attention will be drawn to the bakery cases full of goodies. You can get a paper menu at the counter; it’s easier to read than the hanging chalkboard but not as comprehensive.
Choose from seven literary-themed panini sandwiches, like the Twain, made with hummus, queso fresco, onions, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, lettuce and banana peppers.
Around The Corner Cafe
WHERE: 420 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 682-3500.
WHEN: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily for coffee and sweets,lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
HOW MUCH: $26.71.
MORE INFO: Credit cards: Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover. Wheelchair accessible. Children’s menu.
Since porterhouse steak and oysters were near the top of Mark Twain’s list of favorite American foods, the sandwich might be better called the Pollan, after Michael, who advocates eating mostly plants.
All sandwiches come with kettle-style chips and are $7.50. Grab a drink from the cooler and order at the counter. They’ll bring your food out.
JoAnn chose the more aptly named Dickens, who would no doubt enjoy the roasted turkey, ham and bacon sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise, and would probably be delightfully surprised by the Vermont cheddar.
We didn’t sit long before our food came out, an appealing-looking sandwich and enough chips to share in a paper-lined basket for JoAnn, soup and salad for me. She declared it a very good sandwich, not overstuffed or too thick, and said the ham and bacon flavors came through nicely. She’s partial to the Rockhill Bakehouse bread the Cafe wisely uses.
We both liked the small container of chicken noodle soup ($2.95). The broth was just the right shade of yellow, light, and not a bit greasy. There were lots of fresh carrots and ruffly noodles, and bits of flavorful dark meat chicken, another wise choice.
I’m partial to mysteries, but that’s not why I ordered The Christie salad ($5.95 for small). I was looking for a healthier option, which it is if you pass on the blue cheese or thousand island dressing. It was crammed into a clear clamshell, and would have been a challenge to eat had the Cafe not had such good quality plastic cutlery.
The Romaine was fresh and crisp, and the ham, turkey and American and Swiss cheeses tasty. The balsamic vinaigrette gets high marks, but the underripe tomatoes were disappointing. The half avocado was just right, though.
Desserts a mixed bag
The baked goods we chose for dessert ($7.25) that come from Dolce & Biscotti, an Italian bakery in Clifton Park Center, got mixed reviews from us. The European-style macaroons have converted JoAnn with their real buttercream filling, genuine strawberry flavor and flawless pink meringue. We also gave top marks to the elegant linzer tart, made with a very fine sugar cookie.
The World’s Best pumpkin cookie was a bit dry and the orange icing would have been more appealing had it been used to decorate it neatly as a pumpkin, say, instead of just poured over. Rugulach dough, made with cream cheese, should be rich and crumbly; these were beautiful, but missed on texture. The cakes and cupcakes looked luxurious and sinful.
The tab for our pleasant meal with a bottle of iced tea, came to $26.71, not counting the few bucks for the tip jar.