Cafe Nicole, the newest independent coffee/lunch spot/cafe in Alexandria has opened in the historic Parker Gray neighborhood at the corner of Queen and North Fayette.
Many of you will recognize Nicole Burlimann from her barista years at St. Elmo's in Del Ray and at Starbucks in Potomac Yards.
Her father Erwin, is a Swiss trained chef and was one of the original chefs for Bread and Chocolate.
Both had always wanted a place of their own.
Add an empty building and a burgeoning neighborhood need and voila - Cafe Nicole. The building - formerly home to Sarge's, a soul restaurant that burned and then closed in 2008 - is unpretentious but comfortable with large windows across the front and a variety of table sizes and shapes.
Sarge is still a frequent visitor in the neighborhood and even has a sandwich named after him. He's also picked out his favorite table - something I think a lot of folks are going to be doing.
Open just two weeks, Cafe Nicole has already gotten shout out's on our neighborhood list serv and is drawing attention from the local workers and residents.
Breakfast offerings include hot egg sandwiches with apple wood smoked bacon, ham or sausage, NY bagels delivered fresh daily, real oatmeal and classic Birchermusli.
Coffee is from the Chesapeake Roasting Company (formerly Expresso Outfitters). Nicole, who is a self admitted coffee snob, looked long and hard for just the right roasting company.
A bonus with the Chesapeake Roasters is that they give back two percent of their gross sales to help support the health and welfare of the Chesapeake Bay.
Another "give back" comes with the old-fashioned juke box directly across from the pastry case. Full of standards from the 60s and 70s as well as some more recent tunes, proceeds (put in those quarters folks!) will benefit our favorite Dunbar Boys and Girls Club located just around the corner on North Payne.
But back to the food. Right now Nicole and her dad are working without a full kitchen so pastries, soups, and quiche are from Bread and Chocolate in Old Town (not a bad thing at all).
Salads, sandwiches, and wraps however are made right on the premises from open to close.
Plates of bite size goodies sit next to the cash register and beg to be tested. I for one can say that the bread pudding is worth every calorie.
A full kitchen is on the drawing board, as is the promise of outdoor seating, and a light dinner menu. We already have visions of Chef Burlimann and a menu of Swiss delicacies dancing in our head.
For now Nicole is getting to know the neighborhood and letting them get to know her. Just as you walk in the door there is an email sign up sheet and a folder for comments and suggestions. Don't be shy. Stop by and say hello, get a cup of coffee and sit for awhile. The cafe is open Monday - Friday from 7am to 7pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 5pm. Phone 703.717.9740.
Oh, did I mention the free WiFi and that Cafe Nicole is right on my way to the office? Or maybe Cafe Nicole will be my new office!