Tuesday, June 15, 2010
3Way Cafe - Norfolk, VA
Laine and I saw the 'opening soon' sign in the window as we walked by one day a few weeks ago and said 'hey what is this going to be'. 3 Way Cafe is what. Our friend and colleague mentioned it had opened and he had been,so we decided to check it out for ourselves (the only way we will truly rate a restaurant). I think we were both looking for something new and this cafe has clever names for the salads and sandwiches. A quick walk from the office, 3 Way Cafe proved to be a worthy undertaking. Orders are taken at the counter by very friendly staff, a few of whom I recognize from Baxter's Sports Lounge, which is owned by the same family as 3 Way Cafe and the former Sterling. After paying, you receive your bottled soda, or cup for the self-serve soda fountain and pick a seat. The booths are spacious and comfortable and our food arrived within ten minutes. There were four items that caught my attention and I went with the first (instinct is always right, eh?), the Veg Out sandwich. The nice girl at the counter asked me if the Parmesan chips were okay as the side, as that is what accompanies the sandwiches. I said 'heck yea, I was going to ask for those anyway'. Now, I did not ask if there was an additional charge to subsitute another side, a small salad, blue cheese slaw or fries amongst others. Laine and I will find out the next go round. Note, I hate extra charges for things like that at casual dining places. Afterall, this is not the French Laundry.
Onto the meal. I thoroughly enjoyed my sandwhich, marinated portabello caps, arugula, roasted tomatoes, feta and herb aioli on a ciabatta role. My only immediate recommendation would be to add a little more arugula. The flavors were great, but a little more of the lettuce family would give some complementary filler and crunch to this sandwich. The ciabatta role was definitely store-bought, but for $6.99, I was not in tears over that detail. On the flip side, homemade bread always earns a plethora of points, if 3 Way Cafe is reading this entry. I enjoyed the Parmesan chips, ruffled with a dousing of cheese, olive oil and spices and they were something different. Portions are standard, slightly less than, say Nordstrom. Fountain sodas are $1.59 and self-serve allows you to refill at your pleasure. This adds cred to a restaurant's profile, as do to-go cup tops, which were also on hand.
From the looks of the logo, three men in fedora's and pinstripe suits, there is a gangster undertone. Laine remarked on the background music selections and I have to also comment, the tunes have more of a speakeasy feel, but the decor does not relfect this same theme and there is no liquor license, currently. Nevertheless, I will definitely return. The price point is fair, the food is decent and service for us was fine. Baxter, Sr. came over to see how we liked our meal and spoke kindly from where he sat near the door, as we departed. We arrived around 12:15pm and about 10 minutes later, the ordering counter was packed, so we beat the rush. 3 Way Cafe opened this week and hopefully the crown will grow and I would much rather have that than have them become one of the many restaurants that fail in the first few years. Downtown needs more places like this and less places with bar food. How many bad salads with bottled dressing and fried cheese can a person eat? Good job 3 Way Cafe.
Late addition: I had lunch again today and ordered the Vegan Burger. Instead of the Parmesan chips, I opted for the Blue Cheese Slaw as my side. Seems like you can substitute without an extra charge or hassle. The burger is called vegan for a reason. They ask if you want cheese but it does not come with it and I did not add any. In retrospect, I think I should have (I am not vegan). Caramelized onions and sautéed peppers top the burger on a ciabatta roll. All around good, just need a little cheese and some ketchup (I love ketchup). The slaw was good, but you need to like blue cheese since that is the main flavor, and lets be honest, blue cheese is potent. I think adding a few nuts, probably Walnuts, might be a good addition to this slaw. It would also balance out some of the blue cheese. My lunch pal noticed that there was not any sweetener for the tea. 3 Way has the Gold Tea brand set up where one 'tank' dispenses four different teas, unsweetened, sweetened, diet and usually a flavored. Diet was not an option, so he mixed sweetened and unsweetened since the sweetener caddy was no where in site. Personally, I like to artificially sweeten my own tea, so I opted for Diet Coke. My pal ordered the Cali-Shix salad, though a friend told him the salads were on the smaller side as we were walking out of the building. He was excited about the avocado, which I concur, makes a salad great. On our way out, one of the 3 Way folks asked me how I liked the Vegan Burger and said I was the first to order it. I said it was good, but I would add cheese. Laine and I are always honest. It was nice that he asked and that they care about customers reactions. Plus, now I feel important to have been the first to order something. My five seconds of fame. Maybe I can make the chalkboard where 3 Way announces whatever national day it is (national popsicle day, national sandwich day, etc). My pal grabbed one of the Otis Spunkmeyer cookies and said it was marginal. They look soft in the case, but are actually hard. Other desserts, cheesecake, lemon marscapone and crumb cake, sound appealing and I will report back when another is tasted.
Alex and I are always on a hunt for new places to eat that have a nice variety on the menu, reasonable prices and,of course, good food. Throw in some good service, and cheap sodas (ALWAYS looking for those) and you've got a home run. 3Way Cafe made me happy. Additionally, I was glad to see that something was finally filling the former Blue Plate restaurant on Plume Street. The spot had been vacant far to long. With the arrival of light rail sometime this century, it should be a good business location.
For a restaurant that just opened, they were surprisingly efficient. Of course, these are not restaurant neophytes in charge here, but seasoned, experienced restaurateurs. The counter service was brisk. They got a lot of questions from inquiring minds, and were efficient in handling them. I typically get salads at lunch, primarily because I like to eat salads but I don't like to make salads. They have some interesting choices and don't get all bent out of shape when you 'tweak' their recipe. I especially like that you can add chicken, steak, shrimp or salmon to your salad for a minimal fee. I ordered their Greek Salad and added the Herbed Salmon. It was exactly what I wanted. Our friend "B" headed out with us that day, and ordered the Cali Chix sans Chix. She said it was good. Lastly, I have to admit that I was excited to see Coke Zero on tap. They have nice, upgraded to-go cups too, so I could fill 'er up before heading back to the cell block, I mean work.
So far, so good 3Way Cafe!
Open Monday-Friday 11am-3pm
216 Plume Street in downtown Norfolk
You can call or fax in your order
Phone: (757) 939-2855
Fax: (757) 939-2856.
Catering and delivery is available ($2 charge on orders under $30)