by Alice Levitt
97 Blakely Road, Suite 5, Colchester, 802-652-2444
There's a new restaurant in Colchester, though you might not have noticed. The new owners of the former Café Window, have renamed the airy waterfront eatery the Café Window.
For better or worse, you can't get pho and eggrolls there anymore. You also can't get ice cream from the take out window — yet. A chalkboard entices that "The countdown to ice cream has begun!" Even on a somewhat gray March day, the wall-sized windows overlooking the lake made it feel like summer.
Though the place is all deli inside, diners are invited to sit down wherever they like and enjoy table service. Our server/counter girl brought the menus to our table and filled us in on specials.
Corn chowder? Not exactly in season, but why not? Often that particular soup tastes more of cream than corn. This one really tasted like corn, with just a hint of cream. Potatoes were skin-on and cut in varying sizes. Small slices were tender, while larger chunks were a little on the crunchy side.
I preferred the green chili (right). A stew of ground beef, cannelini beans and green chiles was topped with fresh tomatoes and seasoned tortilla strips. The level of heat was ideal for a lazy Saturday, enough to wake me up without being overwhelming. I just wish I had had some bread to sop up the flavorful essence of the chiles.
Even though it was another ground beef dish, I couldn't resist ordering the sloppy joe (below right). I don't know if I've ever seen one on a menu — anywhere. I was ready to see where ketchup-y goodness would meet the "grown-up take" described on the menu. At $6.50 with chips and a pickle, did it even matter?
The menu mentioned that the meat was "tangy and sweet with a hint of heat." I wasn't able to detect even a hint of heat and little to no tanginess. What I did taste was more interesting: Cinnamon.
Besides the ketchup, I found the mix distinctly Middle Eastern, like the filling of a brewat. It was a pleasant surprise, too, how nicely it paired with the shreds of Parmesan that slowly melted into the meat.
Eating it was as sloppy as advertised, but our server brought ample napkins. The kettle chips were a satisfying side, and I appreciated the fact that the dill pickle left nary a hint of juice on them, despite the fact they lay side-by-side.
The thick baguette from the bakeshop at Junior's Italian was spread with mild garlic mayo, then piled with what I like to call "nature's mayo" — slices of avocado. Lightly (perhaps too lightly) seasoned slabs of chicken would have been more appealing if they'd been served warm. Same for the bacon, which was nonetheless thick and crispy.
The best part of the meal happened once I had exited the Café Window. On my way out, I grabbed a brownie from the still mostly bare case which also included banana bread and muffins. The individually wrapped brownie had big, cleanly sliced edges that seemed to augur good things. I was right. It was one of the best I've had in years.
The texture was perfect — chewy at the edges, thick and fudgy in the middle. The flavor was deeply chocolaty and rich, dark chips were mixed throughout. Best of all, the slab was only $1.50. I continued to pick at it for days. And yes, even on day three, it was still one of the best brownies I can remember.
Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to email@example.com.