I don't drink coffee. I have an immunity to caffeine, and the taste of coffee is not enough for me to justify drinking it on a regular basis. But no matter where I live, I have to find the perfect coffee house, one of those places where I can feel right at home even when I'm not at home. My ideal coffee house has the following qualities:
-great hot chocolate (gotta drink something instead of coffee!)
-quirky atmosphere (I like coffee houses with lots of art on the walls, or books lying around, or even just a slightly eccentric clientele)
When Noah and I lived in Kansas City, my coffee house was called Broadway Cafe, and I spent many lunch hours drinking hot chocolate and reading there. The baristas knew my name, and it was a great place to sit and watch the world go by. Of course, when I moved to Westminster, I had to find a new coffee house. I tried a couple, but they didn't really wow me. I eventually found my way to Heinz Bakery, which was great on the "excellent food" and "friendly staff" front but not the exact place I was looking for. And then I found Birdie's.
When I ran into Birdie's, it hadn't even had its grand opening yet (and yes, it was open before its grand opening. I don't even know). I was walking back from the farmer's market with a friend and I saw it from across the street. The logo, with its name inside a stylized drawing of a bird's nest, and its friendly-looking, colorfully-painted building caught my eye and I insisted that we go in. Walking in showed me a narrow hallway that led onto chalkboards with a variety of delicious-looking food specials, and the walls were covered with art. (Birdie's now posts a flag outside their door alerting people to the fact that they are officially an art-friendly business.) There were flowers and decorative birds on the tables, colorful couches to sit on, vibrant painted walls, a small magazine rack, and the tables had a checkerboard pattern so you could play checkers or chess with a friend while eating your salads and sandwiches. It immediately became my go-to coffee house.
My favorite things to have at Birdie's:
1. Avocado salad. Avocados are one of my favorite foods, and this salad features a mound of salad greens topped with avocado slices, peppers, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a variety of other things you can ask to have included. Their homemade vinaigrette is my favorite dressing for this salad.
2. Veggie sandwich. Much like the avocado salad but on a sandwich, this includes avocados and hummus (!), plus all the above vegetables. I like to have it on their sourdough, but it's probably excellent with any bread.
3. Lox sandwich. I have them go light on the cream cheese, because I don't like a lot of cream cheese on a sandwich. Go for onions, capers, or both on this sandwich--you won't regret it.
4. BLT. Need I explain! I like them to put pesto on the BLT (along with the mayo they include--you would think this would taste bad, but the flavors actually meld together rather well), though sometimes I have them put avocados on instead. They have no problem customizing sandwiches.
To drink I love their hot chocolate, which is nice and rich with a strong dash of vanilla, or their raspberry ice tea, which is unsweetened and delicious. Over 4th of July weekend they had blueberry lemonade, but regrettably I didn't have an opportunity to go over there and try it. :-(
Well, I'm off to the library. And Birdie's is just a 5-minute walk from my house...maybe I'll stop by for an avocado salad on my way home? ;-)