Coffeehouse Review: The Abbey

This just goes to show that second chances are usually a good thing.

Waaaaaay back in the dim dark years of... um, 2011... I had a Groupon for The Abbey, a coffeehouse not far from the main office of Ye Olde Newspaper. It was not a pleasant experience. The space was okay but nothing exceptional, the food was okay (but nothing exceptional), and the server was positively growly. I didn't know if it was because I was paying with my Groupon (I tipped!) or if it was just a naturally growly place, but it put a bad taste in my mouth before I had the food.

I'd never been back. From time to time I'd be looking for a place to grab a nice lunch, maybe get a little writing done before work. I'd do a search on coffeehouses and The Abbey always popped up, but I'd remember that unpleasant server and say, "Nah."

This week I've been working in the main office on the night shift, but dropping Jim off at school meant I had two and a half hours to kill before my shift each day. Writing time. And it so happened that The Abbey had a coupon in my big Entertainment Book, which I resolutely buy every year. I figured five years meant it was time for a second chance.

First: New location. (Probably not that new; it's been a while, remember.) The new space is much bigger and nicer, with a fireplace at one end and small stage for live readings/music on the other, plus a separate meeting room (with a door!), local artists displayed on the walls, little baskets and schtuff for sale, a humidor full of what I presume are only the best cancerous logs, a gelato case and plenty of coffee and tea. Not to mention: Drive-through!

The food also has improved, though it's not the best I've had (that would be Teaspoons, still). While I think I would have preferred my BLT croissant with mayonnaise rather than the special sauce, the pepper bacon was thick and crunchy, just like I like it. The chicken and dumpling soup was unremarkable but filling. And looking at the other plates around the restaurant, it seems like there are a variety of very nice, tasty-looking combos to be had. (Note to the kitchen: Think Billy Goat Chips! They'd really round out the plates.) You can also get a Panera-style twofer: half a sandwich, half a salad or a cup of soup, pick two.

It's noon on a weekday, so the clientele is mostly middle-aged or older folks with a few young moms. I have a feeling, however, that when school is out, the teenagers would flock to this place. Evenings likely belong to the grownups, though; according to their advertising, it's low lights and jazz, and they break out the bar - a fairly impressive selection, by the looks of it.

Downsides: It's a bit on the noisy side. Mostly full, and voices carry. That doesn't bother me; I have my earbuds so I can focus on the writing. But if you're planning a lunch meeting, be prepared to raise your voice or use the meeting room.

Upsides: A large 10-person table means a writing group could meet here easily. It would be perfect for a signing sometime, or just a quick lunch (my food was out doublefast). Wifi was easily accessed and so far has not let me down.

And, of course, the coffee. Flavorful but a tad weak for my taste - and I am not one that generally goes for mud-coffee. That would be Jim. However, mugs are giant and refills are free.

Best of all, the service is polite, helpful an friendly. I was about to make an unfortunate choice in my sandwich construction and the young lady made some suggestions that truly improved the meal. The dishes were cleared away almost as quickly as I emptied them, and turnover was handled efficiently without rushing anyone.

And I might snag some of that gelato before I go.

Comments

  1. I usually give a place two chances (unless of course they make me physically ill) before I write them off for good. Every place has a bad day - the cook gets sick and they have a temp, the food delivery as wrong and they are out of stuff, the waiter/ess dog died - whatever the reason, sometimes a place just isn't up to par. But going back another day will sometimes be a completely different experience - and sometimes not.

    This place sounds pretty good. I also look at how busy they are - if the place is full then it's probably pretty good or the locals have all lost their taste buds (or are all related to the owner). LOL

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