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March 29, 2011

Alice Eats: The Café Window

97 Blakely Road, Suite 5, Colchester, 802-652-2444

IMG_2103 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.

IMG_2097 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?

IMG_2099 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.

IMG_2102 The menu had many sandwiches that interested me. "The French Onion Dipped" was a French dip with a twist — homemade French onion soup instead of straight beef jus. A pulled pork sandwich and meatloaf sandwich mysteriously called "the Darkside," also looked appealing, but we cho se to try "the Henrietta."

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 protected]

I have had the pleasure of eating at the Cafe Window. I found the serice to be prompt and very friendly. My friends and I thought the food was excelent! Of the dishes we tried everyone talke of how fresh, new, and interesting the food was. As Alice mentioned above, their brownies are the best in the land. Don't leave the Cafe window without trying one. Thank you to the friendly staff at the Cafe Window for a great meal. I can't wait to come back in the summer time and enjoy another great meal on your patio overlooking the lake!

I tried the "Darkside" meatloaf sandiwch and I must say it was awesome! Meatloaf with carmelized onions on a bun w/ garlic mayo served with kettle chips and a pickle. Great staff at The Cafe Window and very generous portions for a great price! I hope to make it back soon to try the ice cream and may another "Darkside"!

I had The Standard, which is a pulled pork sandwich with a twist, coleslaw as a garnish on the sandwich. I could have ate the non-mayo based slaw on it's own by the bowl full, but really made the Standard stand out from any other pulled pork sandwich I have ever had. I also had the green chili, which was phenomenal. I will get a bowl of that goodness every time I am at Cafe Window. Can't wait to enjoy their great value food this summer on the patio with a cold beer.

I was at the Cafe Window on a cold wintery day in February and had their Chicken Rice soup and the Turkey Bacon n' Swiss sandwich. The soup was amazing as was the sandwich. I loved the homemade bread they used.It made the sandwich extra wonderful. Being older, it was very nice being served and the waitress was very attentive and nice. The brownie was wonderful. I wanted another to take home and enjoy. Can't wait to come back when the weather is better.

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