I’m Dining Out Here
by Andrew Sprague
My seven-month-old boy Charlie has recently taken to napping in the stroller. That’s led to a dramatic increase in the number of long afternoon walks around Charlottetown. It’s great exercise and it gets us out of the house, which has been nice. We usually walk until he wakes which can be anywhere from forty five minutes to an hour. We mostly follow the same route too; we start in Brighton and head to Victoria Park and the boardwalk, then along the water to Peake’s Quay, then into downtown. As soon as we walk out of Peake’s our choices begin. Where we stop for a treat, or even lunch, all depends on when the boy wakes.
In a market already saturated with cafes and coffee shops, and with new Starbuck’s locations springing up every few blocks, the addition of another soup, sandwich and coffee stand to the downtown core seems counter-intuitive. And the location, on the ground floor of the Homburg Tower on Fitzroy Street, feels just a bit out of the way. These are the thoughts that occurred to me when I saw a post on facebook from Mike Wasnidge raving about a recent trip he’d made to Café Thomas-Martin. He said he’d just had the best pulled pork sandwich of his life. Mike is not prone to exaggeration, so my curiosity was piqued. Given that, I was very pleased when Charlie timed his nap to end at the front door of Charlottetown’s newest café.
We dropped in just after the lunch rush at about 1:30. We were greeted enthusiastically by one of two women behind the counter. I assumed they were the aforementioned Thomas and Martin and I was right; Lori and Jocelyne, specifically.
The counter and kitchen is on the left hand side of the small space, and there is seating for about eight people on the right and at the front window. It is very much set up for take out orders, so much so that they only use take out containers. Jocelyne looks after the front of house, Lori handles the orders. Jocelyn asked if we'd been in before and told us a bit about the place. Everything is home made and sourced as locally as possible, she told us. The menu is small. There were three sandwich choices, a special, a soup and several sweets to choose from.
Jinny was so hungry it was affecting her cognitive abilities but she managed to order and pay for our meal, albeit not in record time. She ordered the day’s special; a chicken quesadilla with rice and beans and homemade salsa. I’m not sure if it was the severe hunger but she absolutely loved it. She moaned and her eyes rolled into the back of her head a couple of times which is either a sign of distress or ecstasy. I’ll go with ecstasy.
I had the roast chicken sandwich with tzatziki and a pumpkin, coconut curry soup. And while the sandwich did not cause me to exhibit symptoms of head trauma, I really liked it. It was fresh, crunchy, tangy and all together sloppy but absolutely delicious. The chicken was nice and tender and the tang of the homemade tzatziki got me right in the corner of the jaw. The soup did not elicit the same reaction but it was good and I ate every bite.
We also ordered a dessert each. Jinny had the carrot cake and I had the coffee cake. Both were good and by the time we were done we were so stuffed the walk home bordered on uncomfortable. At $41 plus tip, with a coffee and a 7up, the price was reasonable given the quantity of food we’d ordered.
Turns out Lori and Jocelyn own Route 3 Eatery in Vernon River. They decided to open Café Thomas-Martin after one too many years of seasonal work. I’m glad they did. While the downtown is chock-o-block with similar offerings, it’s pretty hard to turn your nose up at quality food, and that’s just what this little cafe brings to the table.