248 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City ; 801-532-3225
The comfortable sofas invite guests to have a seat and the local art work inside adds to the interior. Menu includes soups and sandwiches.
Cuisine: American, Cafe
Hours: M-Th, 6 a.m.-10 pm; F, until 11pm; S, 8am-11pm; Su, until 10pm
Reservations: Not accepted/necessary
Sept. 3, 2004
Nostalgia brews up taste, ambiance
By Nancy Hobbs
Coffee bars -- or cafes, in the truest sense of the French word -- were few and far between in the Salt Lake Valley until recently. Nowadays, a new one seems to be around every corner. Plenty are linked with chains, of course, but many are independently owned ventures, with the entrepreneurs hoping their idea of charm and comfort will attract latte-sipping hordes. Nostalgia, located in one of the brick storefronts that made up "Film Row" long ago, is one of the newest in Salt Lake City. Besides a full coffee bar serving from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, the shop offers muffins and pastries baked by Stone Ground Bakery, and deli sandwiches, soups and salads made on-site. Stepping inside Nostalgia's spacious interior, one can't help but note the sparse but oversized furnishings. Several massive rustic tables, large in length and girth, are situated around the room, with two beautiful overstuffed couches beckoning customers in the center of the room. A giant chess set, with each carved wooden piece standing several inches tall, sits on the coffee table between them.
It all is attractive and impressive, although initially it made me feel a little like Alice in Wonderland.
Local artists' work, all for sale, hangs on the walls and is displayed on more of the rustic tables and cabinets. All of this made me curious about the genesis of "Nostalgia" as the cafe's moniker, which, as owner Kathryn Webb explained, has very little to do with the furnishings, per se.
As she and her husband were courting, they spent a lot of hours in quaint coffee shops, sipping and talking.
This venture, she said, "is what we wanted to create from our nostalgic moments . . . We wanted a nice, comfortable place where people could sit down with their friends."
Webb also is promoting Nostalgia for business meetings, and will reserve the ample tables when called in advance. They would serve that purpose well, but we found they aren't as conducive to intimate chatter; even at the table for four, you have to speak up in order for the person across the table to hear. Without much in the room to absorb sound, conversation might not be very private.
I noticed a foursome of young women -- college students, I guessed -- who huddled their chairs as close as possible around one end of a large table. When one of the two small iron sidewalk tables became available, they relocated, making me wonder if it was for the easier intimacy.
But the deep, comfy couches look irresistible for sitting down alone with a cup of coffee and the newspaper.
Not to be forgotten, of course, are the consumables. The service counter and kitchen, toward the back of the room, is the place to order. Chalkboards serve as menus, with one listing daily soups, another sandwiches and salads, and the largest listing Nostalgia's extensive coffee and tea offerings.
Sandwiches are made-to-order, with deli meats and cheeses, as well as homemade chicken and egg salads. They can be ordered on any of a handful of Stone Ground Bakery breads, or as wraps. You also have the option of half or whole, $4.29 and $5.49 respectively. The prices aren't the lowest in town, but the sandwiches are generous in size.
Combinations are $6.99, and includes salad or soup and a soda drink with the half sandwich, or chips and a soda with the whole.
Although the salad with the combo meal is simple spring greens with dried cranberries and choice of dressing, it is a nice accompaniment. If salad is ordered as an entree, there are more options, including cobb, chef and pasta, ranging in price from $2.29 to $4.59.
Soups are homemade, with two options daily, and a wide variety throughout the week. I tried two, both of which were commendable. The tomato florentine had nice chunks of tomato in a rich broth spiced with oregano and basil; the chicken corn chowder was full of diced potatoes and fresh kernels of corn. Also within her rotating repertoire, Webb said, are cream of broccoli, minestrone and chicken noodle.
Desserts aren't homemade, but they certainly are delicious. Both the carrot cake and the molded ice cream novelties topped with caramel and pecans were irresistible.
Of course, coffee is served any way you like it, and the more additions, the pricier. Though Nostalgia's specialty coffee and drink prices are within the range of most other coffee shops, I still balk at paying $3.50 for an iced chai that I can make at home for less than $1. But there seem to be plenty of other people who don't have the same problem.