Editor’s note: Here is today’s dining report. Drop-In Dining is a report about a new or new-to-us restaurant published in the TNT’s Friday GO section. Reporters drop in unannounced and sample the food, on the TNT’s dime, then report to you what the scene and food was like. Have a suggestion for a drop-in dining feature? E-mail us at email@example.com.
The Poppy Seed Cafe
Where: 616 Regents Blvd., Fircrest; 253-460-4101
Hours: 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays
Price Range: $ (entrees under $14)
By Jeffrey P. Mayor
The scene: The Poppy Seed Cafe cafe reflects the homey feel of the surrounding Fircrest neighborhood. This is an intimate locale, almost like eating in the sunroom at a friend’s house, thanks to the large windows in the front of the cafe that allow light to brighten the interior.
Darin and Shelly Adams, who have owned the cafe for almost three years, have been renovating the interior since it opened. "When we bought it, it needed a fresh look. It’s almost there, we still have some work to do. We’ve learned to do it piece by piece rather than throwing a bunch of money at it."
The couple previously owned Pub 54 on South Tacoma Way. There was a mix of customers, from the business crowd with limited time to folks who had time to linger and chat.
Type of food: Sandwiches, paninis, salads, homemade side dishes and soups at lunch. There are several vegetarian options on the menu. The breakfast menu is dominated by seven types of egg scrambles and pancakes, including a lemon poppy seed version. Adams said they change some menu items about every six months to keep up with new food trends and as food prices changes.
What we ordered: We started with a bowl of split pea soup. For our lunches, the four of us tried the chicken Caesar salad, the Asian sesame salad, a curry chicken croissant, the Gobbler and the Reuben. Salads are about $9, and sandwiches are about $7 for a half or $9 for a whole one.
Biggest success: The sandwiches, especially the Gobbler and the Reuben. The Gobbler was loaded with turkey, had a thick layer of cream cheese and cranberry chutney. The Reuben had the right mix of corned beef, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. The fresh-cut french fries were crispy on the edges and soft and warm inside, just the way they should be. The pea salad side dish and the split pea soup were good and definitely homemade, although the soup could have used a few more pieces of ham.
Dessert: We tried the coconut cream meringue pie. The coconut custard filling was thick and tasty, but the crust was a bit soggy, perhaps from sitting in the dessert case a bit too long. The meringue topping was a nice touch.
Service: Our food, and that delivered to other tables, came out quickly. On the day we visited, a single waitress worked the 12-table dining room. But she got help from the kitchen when food was ready or someone came in to pick up an order to go.
Surprise: The homemade cranberry chutney had a cinnamon taste that added a unique twist to the Gobbler. Still, it blended well with the turkey, havarti cheese and cream cheese. It was a great addition to the sandwich, rather than the standard canned cranberry sauce.
Looking ahead: Adams said they would like to complete the cafe experience by adding an espresso machine. "We’re a breakfast and lunch place, that works out well. We’ve talked about adding dinners, but that’s something we’ve opted not to do now."
Pictured here: Shelly & Darren Adams, owners of The Poppy Seed Cafe, show off three dishes, including Rasberry Spinach Salad, Cafe Scramble, and Curry Chicken Croissant. Dean J. Koepfler / The News Tribune