Today’s guest post is written by blogger S.M. Traphagen from Digestion Suggestion Food Blog. Her blog focuses on finding local restaurants that can cater to diners with digestive/food sensitivities.
The great thing about writing about food is the little surprises that still crop up once in a while. Writing about food, to me, is similar to reviewing a piece of art. Each place is unique, each telling a story and with it telling the customers a little something about the owners, and each vying to be memorable in some way.
Many restaurants go for the standard; they offer similar food, or make the same “new restaurant” mistakes, but occasionally you’ll come across something original; something different; something you can’t quite put your finger on. For me, that something is Simply Gourmet. Located at 5 Lake Street Hamburg NY, Simply Gourmet is a small café that serves breakfast, lunch and great coffee. Everything about this place is simple. From the menu, to the décor, to the sign out front, this little café is humble and unpretentious; composed of a single element- food.
I have to admit, I have driven by this place a dozen times and always wondered- what is it? At first I thought it was a catering business. Then I thought it was a bakery. After two years of wondering, I decided the mystery needed to be solved. Now, you need to understand, part of what had me so perplexed was the fact that this seemingly simple café was never open when I would drive by. Shades drawn, door locked, open sign turned off; that is what I saw every time. So naturally I assumed that it couldn’t possibly be a food establishment; they were never open!
Well I finally ventured inside, and to my surprise, it was in fact a restaurant or a café to be more precise. Simply Gourmet is a small privately owned café that serves breakfast, lunch and a wonderful assortment of homemade baked goods and pastries. So why does it always looked closed for business? I found the answer to that question as well. Simply Gourmet, along with everything else about it, has simple hours; open 7am-3pm Monday through Saturday only. Ah hah! It finally all makes sense.
The menu itself is only one page long, with a rotation of fresh made soups and sandwiches daily. The menu changes often and specials can usually be found on their Facebook page. My first time in, I ordered the Lemon Chicken Orzo soup (a large bowl is $3.95) and the Italian Roast Beef Panini ($6.95). I was going to buy a bottle of water but noticed a beautiful glass pitcher sitting on a table behind me, filled with water and fresh lemon slices. When I asked our server if the water was for everyone, she simply said “yes of course, no charge.” Again, it’s a simple concept, but one that goes a long way with customers.
When my soup arrived, it came with nice warm crusty bread. A light chicken broth base was complemented with juicy white chicken, carrots, thyme and orzo pasta. The hint of lemon was just that, a hint; not overwhelming like so many other versions I’ve had. While the orzo pasta is a white pasta (and technically not gluten free), this soup is dairy free for those with digestive sensitivities. It tasted like something right out of my nonna’s kitchen, and a good soup goes a long way on long winter days, which we’ve had in abundance lately.
The Italian Roast Beef Panini is a great second dish to a nice hearty soup. It comes with real lean roast beef, caramelized onions, provolone cheese and Simply Gourmet’s signature sauce. While I’m not sure what the signature sauce is, I can say that it had a bit of heat to it and possibly a hint of horseradish. I asked for it without cheese, which they accommodated with question, and the sandwich was just as good without it.
Subsequent visits included such dishes as the special sandwich of the day- a Southwestern Panini without cheese, homemade Tomato Bisque and White Bean and Escarole soups, and most recently a breakfast wrap with roasted red peppers, egg whites, spinach and mushrooms.
The Panini comes with Harvarti cheese, a creamy buttery Danish cheese that can be mild or sharp depending on how long it’s aged, turkey basil pesto, and homemade chipotle mayo. The concept of marrying chipotle mayo and basil pesto may not sound appealing but it packs a punch of flavor, and that’s without the cheese.
The breakfast wraps come with an array of choices, for example wheat or white, tomato or spinach flavored and only cost $3.95. Two wraps and two coffees later, the bill for two people was only $15.00 minus tip.
While it’s taken me a while to adjust to their hours and many aggravated Sunday afternoons later, I finally realized why this place has sustained for four years and continue to keep going strong- it’s the food and hospitality. Not only are these some of the nicest people you’ll meet and the service outstanding, but the food is consistently excellent. It is evident that a lot of thought and preparation goes into each menu for the day, the ingredients are carefully planned, and everything is made from scratch. The menu is short and uncomplicated with a steady stream of regular items, there is always an assortment of amazing dessert choices and the atmosphere is straightforward and unembellished yet always welcoming. They do cater to gluten free and digestive allergies as well.
What goes into the name is exactly what goes into the café, simplicity. Now that I have mastered the hours of operation, you can bet I will be a frequent customer. The simple truth is Simply Gourmet