Sandwiches and bronuts star at this cozy Downtown breakfast and lunch spot
Metaphorically fishing for something uplifting these days can necessitate a lot of virtual bait. Timing can play a role, too. For instance, just when I thought my cyberspace pool of potential good news had dried up recently, I received an email that excitedly announced: “BRONUTS THIS FRIDAY!”
For the uninitiated, bronuts aren't doughnuts specifically designed for “bros,” but oversized doughnuts made with brioche bread. The delightful pastries are a specialty at Cravings Cafe, an outstanding little Downtown breakfast and lunch shop.
While renowned for bronuts, Cravings Cafe also assembles masterful sandwiches. During this takeout-and-delivery-only time for restaurants, though, the charming place’s frequently changing online menu is limited and its sporadically offered bronuts might require pre-ordering days in advance. But the payoff is top-notch, made-from-scratch food and good values.Get news and entertainment delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our daily newsletter
For example, in an era rampant with $15 hamburgers, it’s heartening to know that Cravings’ Downtown Smash Burger — which arrives in a compostable box like most of Cravings’ sandwiches — outpaces much of the competition at a decidedly better price ($8.95).
Unlike most burgers that feature meat smashed and crisped on a griddle in classic diner fashion, this Smash Burger stars a relatively thick patty and is made from wagyu (Kobe-style) beef. Add a blanket of melted American cheese, shaved red onion, pickles playing off a mayo-based house sauce, plus a glossy, high-quality house brioche roll, and you have a killer burger that tastes somewhat like an elevated Frisch’s Big Boy.
The Reuben ($9.95) might be even better. That’s largely because its real deal house-braised corned beef — instead of overly salty, all-too-common deli stuff trucked in from elsewhere — really shines. Accompanied by judicious amounts of kraut, melted Swiss and Thousand Island dressing, the juicy beef is fragrant with corning spices but retains plenty of its original brisket character. The crowning touch: griddle-crisped, densely caraway-seeded rye bread.
More good, fresh, warm meat — Gerber‘s Amish Farm chicken — distinguishes the cuts-above Cravings Club ($8.95). Bacon, melted cheddar, rosemary aioli, plus a nifty slaw of shaved Brussels sprouts and apple join the tender poultry in a signature brioche roll.
These were the three lunch sandwiches available on a recent Thursday. They were brought out — along with terrific fries ($2.95), plus a heat-at-home quart of impressive, not cream-laden, Cauliflower Parmesan Bisque ($10) — when I phoned after pulling up to the restaurant at the time quoted online earlier that day.
While depositing the food onto my car’s backseat, Lindsey Tewanger — she co-owns Cravings with husband Matt — said, “See you in the morning,” because Tewanger knew I’d preordered bronuts, a Friday special that week, after I’d received the restaurant’s aforementioned email on Wednesday.
Pulling up again the next day for those bronuts and a couple of breakfast sandwiches, I could see Tewanger cheerfully waving with my bagged food through Cravings’ glass door, which reassuringly bears a handwritten sign requesting: “Please respect the ‘6 foot rule’” and “only 4 customers in cafe at any one time please.”
My small breakfast club back home judged that the Classic Breakfast Roll ($8) with a sage-scented seared sausage patty, fried cage-free egg, aioli and melted cheddar on brioche edged out the well-made Burrito ($8.50) with abundant fried potatoes, bacon, Monterrey Jack, plus a flawless omelet mass brightened by pico de gallo and house cilantro sauce.
It was a lovely, early spring morning so we enjoyed our fluffy-and-yeasty bronuts ($12 for four) and quart of good-and-strong Thunderkiss Cold Brew coffee ($9) later on the porch. As birds chirped and joggers passed, we couldn’t settle on a winner between the equally delicious vanilla bean bronuts with sprinkles and the bronuts topped with dark-chocolate ganache and crispy toffee bits. But we did agree on this: Few recent stay-at-home days had started off with so much promise.