Dining Out

Locally Inspired Cuisine

A farm-to-table caterer opens a full service cafe

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I have been to the Café at Easy Entertaining for breakfast, lunch and afternoon coffee, each time with different friends. Our consensus is: We want more. On a bitterly cold winter morning, I dashed into the café, happy to feel warmth again in the open dining area, a charming land of mismatched furniture in a restored factory loft space. I sat at a sunny table near an electric but much appreciated fireplace. My friend Leigh soon joined me, and we both dined on egg sandwiches for breakfast with bottomless cups of coffee. Mine was the Signature Egg Sandwich ($3.50), a fat pillow of early morning goodness. The perfectly poached, super plump egg was topped with thin slices of Vermont cheddar (not enough, more please). Holding all this warm protein together was an equally warm and soft pretzel roll. So simple, so good… the kind of food you can’t help but think about with each bite.

Leigh chose the Skinny Egg Sandwich ($3.95) with similar ingredients tucked between two slices of whole grain and flax bread. It was supposed to have pea greens in there as well, but they hadn’t yet come in from the farm. Chef-owner Katie Roberts ventured out of the kitchen to apologize and said they substituted other greens. That’s the kind of honest, personal attention you get at the Café, where every effort is made to use local products. The eggs were from Baffoni Poultry Farms in Johnston, the breads from Foremost Bakery in Providence and the missing pea greens from Allen Farms in Westport, Massachusetts.

Katie is the stunningly pretty face of Easy Entertaining Inc., a farm-to-table catering and special events business with a network of more than 30 local farms and artisans. The small, female-run company was founded in 2006 after Katie completed culinary school in Florence. The café (former site of Mosaic Latin-American Bistro) serves as Katie’s office where on-site and off-site events can be planned in detail. The kitchen creates the food for such events as well as breakfast and lunch items for the café – gourmet food that is sustainable and locally sourced. A new winter menu is now in place, and that includes “fit and healthy” dinner options that you can pick up on your way home from work.

Another wintry day found me at the café at lunchtime yearning for instant warmth, nicely provided by a cup of the Beef Chili ($4.95), one of the seasonal soups offered as a daily special. I only wish there had been more in that cup. My lunchtime companion had the same reaction to her Fall Greens ($6.50) with chicken salad added to the mix (for an additional $2.95). The baby greens were mixed with dried cranberries, toasted walnuts and a wonderful pumpkin goat cheese (from Beltane Farm in Lebanon, Connecticut), dressed with apple cider vinaigrette. The chicken salad had a touch of curry, and again left my friend wanting more.

Thankfully, we found our sandwiches most satisfying. The Roast Beef Sandwich ($8.95) was a terrific combination of hearty flavors – tender slices of Angus beef from Blackbird Farms in Smithfield, a sweet-tangy cranberry aioli and Narragansett Creamery’s Atwells Gold, all on a pretzel baguette from Foremost Bakery. The House-Roasted Turkey Breast Sandwich ($7.95) featured turkey from Baffoni Poultry Farms, flavored with apple-bacon chutney and walnut aioli (both made in house), layered nicely within slices of pain au lait bread from Foremost. Once you have sandwiches as well crafted as these, it’s almost impossible to enjoy mundane offerings elsewhere.

Other recent lunch offerings included the Kitchen Sink Grilled Cheese, Pineapple BBQ Carnitas Burrito and Meatball Panini ($6.50 to $8.25). The hearty soups were Tomato-Meatball Tortellini and Root Vegetable with Chicken and Whole Grain Elbows ($3.95 per cup, $4.95 per bowl).

And then there was the afternoon I stopped in for coffee with friends. It was slim pickings on that particular day. Someone from an area business had come in earlier and scooped up most of the goodies available – plain and chocolate croissants, Danish pastry, fruit muffins, scones, cookies and brownies (all in the $1.85 to $2.75 price range). We were lucky to snag a hearty pumpkin muffin and without a doubt the best scone I’ve ever had. Forget all your previous experiences with dry, crumbly scones. This one was moist and rich with the sweet and tangy flavors of dried fruit. These assorted pastries and “toasting delights” (as described on the menu) are the creations of Foremost Bakery, and they are all accompanied by fresh butter from Little Rhody Farms.

So, on every visit to the café with my various friends, we all wanted more, and for two reasons – because the food is so good, and because we thought the portions were sometimes on the small size. (But maybe that’s a Rhode Island thing, where we’ve gotten used to larger than normal portions.) The Café is the kind of place where you will probably have room for dessert, and chances are you will love it.