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Carolina Cafe - 925 Sumter Street

Posted by The LunchMen Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Typical cafe turning out typical results.

Tebow was so kind as to drive Rabbit, the Publican, and I to lunch today. I thought we were headed to Tio's, but a mid-route audible placed us next door at the Carolina Cafe. Parking for Carolina Cafe can be bad, but we were fortunate to have a 30-minute parking spot vacate as we were pulling up. If that's not writing on the wall....

Carolina Cafe looks exactly like you would expect a cafe to look. Yellow, cafe walls are adorn by random, low-end cafe art. The food counter has a bunch of college kids standing behind it debating the merits of enrolling in an art history course next semester. The food is pretty typical cafe food as well: soups, salads, bagels, and sandwiches. I don't say "typical" to convey any negative connotation - the food was fresh and of decent quality. Rabbit's Chef Salad had healthy, ripe veggies in it, and it lacked any wilted lettuce or sour tomatoes. He was a little down because the salad was pre-made earlier in the day, meaning that he had to pull out the cheese and egg yolks himself. However, the salad was passable.

Tebow and the Publican were pleased with the quality of the sandwiches they ordered. They commented on the fact that the turkey was better than one might find at a sub-par cafe or at Bi-Lo on sale; it was a nice cut of meat that was as lunch meat should be - moist, but not slimy. That's good, right? Similarly, my spinach bagel seemed recently baked, and the chicken salad I had on top of it was good, although a little heavy on the mayo. The pasta salad I had on the side was not very good at all because it lacked any imagination or flavor. I should have had a bag of Bickel's of York original potato chips instead.

We were discussing how to review our average experience at the Carolina Cafe when, to our pleasant surprise, Captain Understatement's Better Half sauntered into the restaurant for some solo dining. Captain Understatement's Better Half comes from a land where food is treated with more care and love than it receives at a place like the Carolina Cafe. Her mother is an excellent Greek cook, and I have been on the receiving end of some truly delightful fare that she has whipped out on a weekend afternoon. We asked her for her input, and she summed up the experience well (I'm paraphrasing):

"Its fine, its just fine. Its not great. You guys say that too many things are good that aren't THAT good. Its tasty enough for me to come grab and egg and cheese sandwich or a bagel because I work so close by, but it is nothing remarkable."

This was well said. The food at the Carolina Cafe is just ... pretty good.

We agree that often we describe things as "good" when, in a global sense, they aren't very remarkable at all. Certainly, the Carolina Cafe is not going to compete with the delis of New York and the side-walk cafes of Paris. Its not nearly that "good." When we say anything is "good" on this blog, we should probably qualify that opinion with the phrase "good for Columbia" or "good if your in this part of Columbia looking for a bite of what this place serves."

On a global scale of 1-10, I'd give the Carolina cafe only about a 2. On a Columbia deli/cafe scale, particularly around Campus, I'd rate it about a 5 - not too bad, just okay.

- Tank

Carolina Cafe & Catering Co on Urbanspoon

2 comments

  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. This place is a nightmare to work at. The owners are clueless and quite disrespectful to the employees and sometimes, customers. Go here if you are looking for an okay bagel with okay cream cheese, but don't spend 10 bux here for lunch because some dazed \ moron is probably going to mess it up.

    The service is terrible, and the quality of the food, other than bagels, are quite questionable.

    Boo on Carolina Cafe.

     
  3. The Publican Says:
  4. Boo on Carolina Cafe is right. Those clowns abandoned the delicious chips they used to serve for Ruffles. Thats right, those Ruffles. The ones in the blue bag that often get served with some nasty french onion dip at cookouts. Boo.

    This is almost as bad as when Grouchos abandoned Wise potato chips for the nasty re-branded "Grouchos" chips they force on me today...

    Oh yeah, when Spoony asked for the conspicuously absent sprouts and tomato for which she paid extra, the girl behind the counter barely looked up and said flatly - "leave it on the counter." Boo part 2.

     

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Rabbit, Tank, and The Publican are three dudes just trying to get through the work week here in Columbia. Rabbit is a Columbia native, Tank is from Charleston, and The Publican hails from Greenville. Rabbit's favorite lunch spot is the No Name Deli on Elmwood, where you may find him putting down a grilled chicken salad and a side of vinegar pasta. The Publican usually wants to find food to cure his all-too-common hangovers. Tank claims no favorite lunch spot - he lives for the thrill of the hunt.

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