While we were leaving the market this past Saturday I looked across the street and noticed, there in all its glory was Alice's Village Cafe....finished. I had heard whisperings last year when I flogged the Cheshire Cat Pub that the owners might be branching out. I joined their "regulars" group on Facebook so I could keep track of all the yummly dishes they were featuring on their menu each week and...of their new cafe project. I saw pictures pop up here and there of laying slab and walls going up, but apparently I was hip deep in brain surgery recovery #1 when they officially opened their doors for business.
As soon as I got out of my car, I could SMELL that I was going to love my lunch. It was only 11:30, so there weren't too many people in there yet. Their website isn't up and running quite yet, so I couldn't do anything but call ahead to see what variety of foods they had to offer. As soon as the girl on the phone said "panini" when she was listing off their lunch fare, I knew what I was getting. I LOVE a sandwich with a nice crusty bread, it is one of my favorite things to eat.
Alice's set up is a bit different from what I am used to, when you walk in you see a counter and a case filled with food. The idea is you walk up to the case and pick out what you want...quiche, wrap, sandwich and they prepare it. They also have some killer baked goods that are a force to reckon with.
I knew what I wanted when I looked at the offerings, but just to cover all of my bases I asked the girl at cash what she thought was their best sandwich. Great minds think alike, Turkey Confit...exactly what I wanted. With my sandwich I wanted to try a couple other things... They haven't been open long but they are already on the map for their Big Nasty and I saw the glass jars filled with scones and immediately wanted to try their spinach cheddar scone. Mmmm... With my sandwich cooking and baked goods in hand I found a table and got to looking around.
These pictures don't do the cafe justice and I feel horrible about that, but not too long after I sat down the place started packing in the people. Below those very cool light bulbs is a huge family style banquet table. It was occupied most of the time I was eating...as was almost every other table in the joint. I wasn't sitting very long before they brought my panini to the table. I was busy staring down my Big Nasty wondering if I was going to be able to eat my whole sandwich and that roll.... Then my sandwich arrived.
Turkey Confit & Potato Crisps
I spent a couple of seconds staring at it in wonderment. It looked SO appetizing, but I didn't want to jump ahead of myself. I had a test...something not many people think of but, one thing that is always in the back of my head when I am judging whether a panini is top notch or not. The meat. See...anyone can go to a deli and buy thin sliced whatever and stack it fancy pants into some bread... I was looking for flavor layering and Alice didn't let me down. When I opened my panini there were pieces of turkey...off the bird turkey! Not ground up, pressed into form and then shaved turkey. That meant FLAVOR and texture and....yummliness. The turkey was moist and meaty and was paired sublimely with the bacon, swiss and tomato. There was a roasted garlic black peppercorn mayo on there that was the French kiss to this otherwise perfect creation. I was on cloud 99! Their potato crisps were just right on the crisp and the salt, which is very important to me. Overcooked crisps and over OR under salted crisps are the kiss of death on a plate. If you can't make 'em right...leave them off is what I say! But, Alice had them spot on. It was time for the finale of the encounter....
It seems rather ironic to me after sinking my teeth into the roll that this behemoth could be characterized as "nasty" by anyone. I laughed out loud while I was sitting there thinking of telling my Mister that he just HAD to go to Alice's to try their Big Nasty. I can't call it nasty, but I WILL call it tasty! This dough was perfectly cooked all the way through, which is sometimes a problem when you get into "Texas sized" baked goods. The dough has to be properly constructed so, as it sits in its caramel, it doesn't absorb the caramel, causing the dough to become soggy mess. The seasoning was light and the nuts still had a crunch to them. I'm in love with this roll...
Yeah, if my Momma heard me say that she'd be mystified, she taught me how to make these back when I was 10 years old. I can still make one just like it, but...lol...there's somethin about eating one when you didn't have to make it. Especially when your whole city is experiencing its driest month in recorded history and its hotter than an oven every time you walk out your door. Who wants to bake when it is like that? Okay, honestly, me. But!...lol...when you can get the same exact thing somewhere else, you take a break from the slaving in the kitchen every once in a while. I was glad I did. There have been times in the past where I have looked at a menu and thought "Oh, heck...I can make that at home." and passed up on a dessert or pastry that might have been super awesome. Shame on me....
It is nice to know there is a place in town that I can go for good, old fashioned comfort foods. With autumn creeping into the calendar I will be keeping Alice...and all her wonderment...in my back pocket as a place to go for a fast (it was remarkably fast!), healthy, local and very flavorful meal. Between Alice's and their Cat, just down the road, I have a feeling that I know where I am going to be spending my "off flogging" eating hours the rest of my time in Ottawa. For reasonable prices, fabulous food and peaceful atmosphere its Alice's for the win!