Sometimes writing a restaurant review can break your heart. You want so very badly to say nice things. The person who owns the restaurant is wonderful. The place is lovely and conveniently located. There is fantastic art on the walls and the service is both personable and attentive.
And yet, if you’re being honest, you just can’t dash off a glowing review. You can praise and praise, but if the bottom line is that you don’t go to eat here very often, the proof is in the pudding and the money is where the mouth is. Or something like that.
Again, Cool Beans has everything that it should: tasty coffee fixed by nice people, making it a perfect “pop in for a cappuccino” sort of joint. The latest New York Times lies out for you to peruse if you should opt to sit and sip your coffee drink amid the fantastic art.
And yet, if you have gone if for a coffee drink (say, a mocha) and maybe a snack, you have paid $4 for your mocha and $1.50 for your thick and tasty cookie. Add in sales tax and you realize that you have dropped nearly 8 bucks for a mid-day caffeine boost and cookie. You, living amid a crippling economic recession depression, just can’t afford that kind of snack break.
And then there’s the food. Again, all looks to be right with the world. The food is healthy. There are a wide variety of interesting menu options that you can’t acquire anywhere else. Each item is named after a famous Hollywood personality (for some reason all except the Grace Kelly appear to be named after famous directors). There are tasty-looking salads and pastas, along with a daily rotating special. On a recent day, the special was some sort of tenderloin beef tips. Once we had a vegetarian muffaletta special that was one of the best foods we’ve ever been served in Montgomery. Seriously. And having had multiple meals there, it cannot be denied that each dish is individually prepared with attention and care by a real chef. None of the frozen, mass-produced microwave items that you might encounter at other, more standardized sit-down chains.
But again, when you end up looking at your bill at the end of the meal, you ask yourself whether it was really worth paying $20 for a lunch in which your salmon (the John Huston) was actually a little oily and soft. The lentil salad (the Francois Truffaut) is so delicious that you would eat it every day if you could. Seriously, it’s the kind of healthy food that might convince even the fries-and-chicken fingers set to eat something good for them, what with the orange zest in the organic yogurt and the delicacy of the salad. You think it won’t be filling enough for lunch, but it turns out to be awesome and just right.
Adding to the perception that an establishment must be “out of place” in order to be “artsy,” there’s no regular sweet tea, but some sort of sweetened peach tea concoction. And this stuff is like syrup. Not good.
Montgomery needs Cool Beans. It needs more local coffee houses and more galleries and more chill places for relaxing and eating good food prepared without huge chunks of pork in it. We just wish that it was more affordable to go.