Make friends with Maeves Caf

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November 21, 2011
By: Mike Munzenrider
Mike Munzenrider
// Coffee, eats and — soon — wine at Northeast’s new cafe //

Feeling welcome in an establishment owned by Mary Colon is never a problem. She’s got a memory that remembers names, faces and stories with aplomb, evidenced by many a welcome at her new venture, Maeve’s Café.

Colon, owner of the defunct Audubon Coffee, opened Maeve’s Sept. 25, at 300 13th Ave. NE, a bit down the hill from her former business.

Walking into Maeve’s on a cool, overcast October evening, Colon is there, working the counter, welcoming a former Audubon regular as she does everyone: warmly, catching up on the times since passed.

The ambiance is coffeehouse but open enough to encourage a sense of on-foot mingling. The space feels old-fashioned, in that newly renovated kind of way. Church pews are incorporated into the seating scheme and the other furniture is decidedly heavy and hearty, all on a black-and-white checked floor. The CD player plays the coffee house norm, though Maeve’s is vinyl-ready with a phonograph, too.

For a first time diner, the menu seems dense, albeit on one page. Orders are taken at the counter where one might also order the routine coffee or Americano (the espresso is low on acid and high on nuance, crème, etc.) on their way to work.

Headlining the menu are breakfast choices served all day, as the kitchen, open 8 a.m.–8 p.m., allows. Standard breakfast sandwich offerings are present, although the Nutella with banana and chopped pistachio on rustic bread proved intriguing. Judging by the speed of the kitchen, breakfast plans will not hold up morning schedules.

Dinner was the plan, though, and Maeve’s offers many a baguette or panini sandwich, along with small plate items and salads.

The smoked trout cream cheese spread with dill and green onions, served with crostini, was a proper leadoff. No one flavor called the shots in the spread, and the crostini was buttered and crisp, a perfect conduit for the spread, although there could have been more.

Following the small plate was a field of greens. The spinach salad with arugula, grilled apple, blue cheese and red wine vinaigrette was enough for one though it was split. The grilled apples had a candied, almost overwhelming flavor until paired with the blue cheese — a happy memory, not soon to be forgotten. The spinach and arugula were tip-top with Granny Smith apples.

The turkey and cheddar melt with oven-roasted tomato panini was more than serviceable, but the sandwich special for the day, an Italian panini with capicola ham, provolone, tomato and basil stole the show. Both are served with arugula in vinaigrette, and the Italian panini was rich and satisfying, in a drowsy-making kind of way.

The dessert of the day was affogato, espresso poured over vanilla bean ice cream with crushed pistachios and caramel sauce; this writer regrets not indulging.

The sandwiches and salad came in fast succession following the small plate, and what was a completely filling dinner came in at just over $20, sans tip. Without a doubt, once Maeve’s gets its liquor license, hopefully around Christmas, the dinner tab will be a bit more. The license will be similar to their neighbor’s, The Anchor Fish & Chips, requiring food purchase with a drink.

Add Maeve’s Café to your list of tasty, inexpensive spots for a snack or dinner, deserving of further investigation. Don’t forget it’s a coffee shop, too. Colon’s new venture is a great addition to the already plentiful eating options on 13th Avenue and might very well be one of the friendliest.