Whoever thought of making a panini was brilliant, to say the least. A hot sandwich with meat, grilled vegetables and some sort of fattening sauce all pressed together so that the cheese inside gets gooey is worth breaking a summer bikini diet for.
Needless to say, there were high expectations for the Panini Cafe, the new restaurant on Lindbrook Drive.
The restaurant has plenty of seating inside, with booths and tables, which gives it a diner feel. The cafe also has a makeshift patio located at the front of the restaurant.
At times, it seems that waiters treat customers sitting outside as afterthoughts. But, the waiters at Panini Cafe were attentive and also accommodating. While there were only two-person tables on the patio, a family of four requested to sit outside and the staff hurriedly put two tables together.
And the service was done with a smile.
When I sat down, I quickly browsed the menu and decided to order the Chicken Panini, which said in parentheses “Highly recommended!” It was served on Filone bread and stuffed with grilled chicken breast, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, fontina cheese and pesto. The panini also came with the option of different pastas, soups, salads or fruit. So for around $10, a customer can get a meal that includes all the basic elements of the food pyramid.
The sandwich, however, was not what was expected. Thanks to George Foreman Grills, there is a prevalent thought that a panini should be pressed so the sandwich is piping hot, crispy and has cheese oozing out. But this panini was served as a moderately hot sandwich and wasn’t pressed at all.
Upon looking at the menu again, it did give a disclaimer at the bottom: “All paninis are available deli style (bread is not grilled).” This was much like asterisks attached to limited-time items – the product is good but it is a bit annoying that there is some sort of restriction. The toasted bread also ended up getting soggy and wet (wet, not moist) within 10 minutes of receiving the food.
In spite of its flaws, the food was in fact really good. While the flavor of the artichoke hearts was only slightly noticeable since the roasted tomatoes demanded so much attention, the advantage of not having the panini pressed was that it was a huge sandwich ““ not the same size and feel of a grilled cheese sandwich. It was extremely flavorful and fresh.
During my meal, a waiter delivered a plate of breakfast food to another table on the patio. It was a huge plate of eggs, French toast, hash browns and bacon.
The chicken pesto panini paled in comparison to the breakfast plate drizzled in syrup.
Though the restaurant is called “Panini Cafe,” its menu boasts a myriad of other dining options, ranging from diner breakfast food to Mediterranean cuisine. Upon looking at the menu, and even upon a closer examination of the panini section itself, a traditional chicken pesto panini seems like a mundane choice. While it was not inedible by any means, there was no need to “highly recommend!” as the menu so proudly exclaimed.
Considering the sandwiches are priced around $10, patrons would be wiser to choose something a bit more unfamiliar rather than getting a chicken pesto panini that one could pick up from CafÃ© 1919.
Email Lee at [email protected]