Alexandria, VA – You walk into a bright, airy, modern décor room, look around, and smile. This looks wonderful. You settle into the comfortable chair filled with comfy cushions and your drink appears, you take a sip, and look out the window and enjoy the view of sunlight dancing on the Potomac. You settle in a little deeper and think, I could spend the rest of the day right here. We’re here at lunch time and watching people moving in and out, picking up meals, being seated, and enjoying the same sense of ease.
It’s Café 44 on the fourth floor of 44 Canal Place Plaza. Currently open for breakfast and lunch during the week and brunch on the weekend, they are beginning dinner service at the beginning of March. The place is relaxed, noise level easy on the ears, and easily accessible. There’s plenty of parking on the street or in the garage (only $5). There’s lots on the menu to please everyone.
We wandered around and through the menu, intent on tasting as many of the dishes as possible. We started with soup. The soup is house made fresh daily and includes a daily bowl of roasted tomato soup and a chef’s daily special. We lucked out with the chicken noodle soup. The ruddy tomato soup was a thick bowl of pure tomato flavor. I wished I had a grilled cheese sandwich I could have dipped into it like had as a child. The chicken soup was so loaded with large pieces of chicken, noodles, carrots, and other veggies, it was almost a problem finding the broth. Delicious and filling and based on the chicken soup, I’d order any one of their daily chef preparations.
We moved on to a table full of sandwiches and salads. The New England Lobster Roll hold lobster held together by seasoned mayo, with chives on a tasted New England roll, and sea salt kettle chips. Even our Connecticut eater thought it was pretty good for a lobster roll. If you didn’t know, Conn folks make their lobster rolls with melted butter. The roll was toasted, the lobster rich, and the mayo tasty. We moved on to the Big Dipper grilled cheese sandwich. This is definitely not your usual grilled cheese from the cafeteria sandwich. The sandwich was truly overflowing with gruyere, white cheddar, and manchego melted cheese on lightly buttered toasted sourdough bread. Accompanied with those same potato chips, it’s a full meal all by itself. The sandwich did not last long. And, let’s talk about those potato chips. These are sea salt coated kettle chips. They are absolutely the right accompaniment to these heavyweight sandwiches.
We moved on to one of the Restaurant Week sandwiches which is joining the daily lineup. The Toasted Italian sandwich was loaded with salami, pepperoni, soppressata, and provolone, slathered with pesto and sundried tomato aioli on ciabatta bread. I love Italian sandwiches and this one is definitely going on my list of must eat again. Lots of meat and cheese are the perfect arranged marriage of pesto and aioli. We then decided we should get a bit healthier and have a salad. We made an absolutely perfect choice with the Curry Chicken Salad. The roasted chicken is mixed with a sweet and savory curry dressing and served over mixed greens with an assortment of crunchy croutons. It was delicious. We danced around taking seconds and thirds until someone announced that they were going to finish what remained. We begrudgingly agreed to allow it. I can’t wait to have this on a day when I need to be transported to another clime.
As if we didn’t have enough to make us feel fat and happy, we were faced with a combination of three different sweets, again, baked in house. My absolute favorite was the blondie. It was just sweet and rich enough to satisfy any sweet tooth without cloying. My hints for a second one went unanswered because they had sold out! The chocolate brownie cookie is a chocolate lovers delight. It’s rich and fudgy, just like a fudge brownie should be. This cookie would be a perfect accompaniment to any of gelatos offered. We had one more dessert staring at us. This huge chocolate cookie beckons you with its lovely caramel color and chunks of chocolate. Don’t let it intimidate you. Grab it and take a big bite. You will love it. Fortunately, one of our group was not a chocolate person so we only had to split it two ways!
Café 44 offers an abundance of breakfast and brunch items ranging from waffles to omelets to sandwiches. Have some avocado toast or a slice of Quiche Lorraine or a Tomato and Goat Cheese Quiche. There’s a lovely assortment of muffins, biscuits, and fruits too. Make a healthy choice with a Yogurt Parfait made with vanilla yogurt, granola, blueberry compote, and a touch of honey. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and you’re ready to start your day. You can then finish your day at Happy Hour. If you missed the Big Dipper grilled cheese of New England Lobster Roll at lunch, you can grab one now. There’s an excellent assortment of small plates including Chef’s Mac-n-Cheese with a blend of aged cheddar, asiago, andPparmesan. I suggest you top it with either the BBQ pork or lobster and call it dinner. Another unusual yet tasty bite of the Bluey Bredad. These are gooey bites of croissant with jalapeno, cream cheese, and cheddar.
Vegetarian? Plenty of choices are available all day for you. Breakfast and brunch includes omelets that include the Garden filled with spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, and onions, and covered in a spicy house salsa. There’s a marvelous Roasted Mushroom and Tomato Pizza available at lunch and happy hour. The Seasonal salad is filled with shaved brussels sprouts, asiago cheese, pomegranate seeds, and almonds served on romaine hearts with a honey-Dijon vinaigrette.