Last month I wrote about how every time I go home to Olympia, I have to make a trip up to Seattle to go to Thai Tom (aka the best damn Thai food in America). I have places like this all over the country – restaurants and cafes and sandwich shops and groceries that I feel compelled to visit if I’m in the area. Of course, it’s not just about the quality of the food itself, but about the memories and feelings of nostalgia that the food and the setting evoke. What is a good name for this kind of spot? Nostalgia restaurants? Comfort cafes? I’m sure everyone has spots like this.
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to get to visit one of my comfort cafes. Darwin’s Ltd. in Cambridge, Massachusetts was my go-to sandwich and coffee shop through four years of college and two years of grad school. With free wireless and comfortable chairs, I’d go here to write papers or read course books while enjoying the most delicious and creative sandwiches I’ve had in my considerable experience of eating sandwiches. Tip: if you’re going to Darwin’s, go at lunchtime when they come up with a few daily specials that are particularly creative. I still remember the ephemeral pleasure of a daily special from four years ago: roast beef, sauteed leeks, hoisin sauce, and greens on a ciabatta roll.
But last night I just ordered my usual: the Magnolia. Sliced apples, shaved carrots, avocado, tomato, sprouts, hummus, and honey mustard vinaigrette on seven grain raisin bread. Sounds like vegan propaganda, I know, but it could convince even the most ardent carnivore. I think this was also the favorite sandwich of a friend of mine who happened to work at Darwin’s for a while, so I’m sure she got to test out every sandwich. It very nearly brought tears to my eyes to eat it again.
Ah, delicious nostalgia.