Monday, December 20, 2010

**Restaurant Review** Cafe Strudel, West Columbia

Today I had just enough time to meet my parents for a quick lunch, as we were on our way to the funeral of an old and good friend. :-(

Her church is in West Columbia, so we decided to pop in at Cafe Strudel.  I haven't been to Strudel in quite awhile, so I had no "top of mind" favorites.  I have friends who are long-time, hard-core Strudel fans who could've recited the menu to me, I bet.  Once I arrived, I had to make a very quick choice, since on the way I got stuck by a train and then got behind every person in Greater Columbia who was unaware that their cars come equipped with accelerators.  Anyway, here's how it all went down:

Dad ordered today's special: smoked salmon quesadilla.  Mom opted for the soup du jour (ham & bean) with 1/2 sandwich and I chose the "Lowcountry BLT wrap."  From all accounts, it seems I made the tastiest choice.

Per Jim (Dad) the quesadilla wasn't "what I expected."  It wasn't slices of smoked salmon with cream cheese and dill, but rather a spread of those ingredients, or as Dad referred to it, a "mush."  Decent flavor, but the consistency wasn't on the mark.  Per Dottie (Mom) the soup was lots of ham, very little bean and lots of broth.  Her sandwich is called the "Martino."  According to the description, it's a favorite for over 10 years.  I'm sure that's what prompted Mom to order it. The description, however, would have been exactly why I WOULD NOT have ordered it. Turkey, cheddar, olives...what?  Sounds like a gustatory assault to me. Graciously, Mom called her lunch "mediocre, at best."

Mine, was actually pretty good, but definitely something you can't eat everyday.  It was very rich and honestly, if I were teetering on the edge of hypercholesterolemia and a cardiac stent, it could have killed me.  Seriously though folks, the "Lowcountry BLT wrap" was a good choice. Spinach tortilla stuffed with pimento cheese (not too know, there can be way too much!), bacon and fried green tomatoes.  I'm a sucker for fried greens which is funny because I can't deal with red tomatoes unless they are cooked.  No good ol' Southern tomato sandwiches for this girl.  And, who doesn't love bacon? I bet you even vegetarians would woop up on some bacon in a moment of weakness and when they thought no one was looking.  And, unlike most restaurants, this place does not skimp on the bacon.  A definite plus.  The FGT's were great...not greasy, good thickness so they were "al dente".  Ha!  Al dente fried green tomatoes...I slay me!

In the big picture, I think Strudel's allure is the fact that the people who run it are cool, they are inventive with their menu, even though it's not always "knock it out of the park" and the character of the place and location is appealing.  Is it the caliber of food that I seek out again and again?  No.  But, will I meet you there for lunch or brunch from time to time? Sure.

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1 comment:

  1. As as regular of the Cafe Strudel, I have to chime in on their behalf. As somewhat of "weekend culinary warrior" and a "lover of all/most things edible", I can honestly say that I have RARELY ever met a soup there that I did not like. Through the years their menu has continued to evolved while their quality has remained constant....innovative and unique, many of the specials I have had there could easily rival that of a much more expensive restaurant. And did I mention the soups?? It is unfortunate that your experience with the soup of the day was less than stellar, and seemingly no one bothered to ask for a description of the special or read the description of the sandwiches, but its hardly worth dismissing the restaurant as just "so-so". And it doesn't hurt that they offer a full breakfast menu all day, have a nice variety of ridiculously sinful deserts, and pour a fine selection of imported and craft beers and wine.
    For what it is worth, I would recommend it to anyone....I can only suggest you have another go at it and see if your assessment changes any.



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