SPRINGFIELD -- So how many local restaurants use eggs from their own organically raised flock of chickens?
As far as I know, there's only one: 3 Caf at 684 Belmont Ave.
Owner and chef Cathie Albrecht has established a cozy neighborhood breakfast and lunch spot with a real difference. Albrecht features home baked breads and lovingly created desserts as well as seasonal dishes that showcase locally grown produce.
The desserts are prepared three ways -- a regular recipe and then a vegan version as well as a gluten-free one.
Accompanied by staffers Courtney Llewellyn and Mike Briotta, we tried out the 3 Cafe offerings last week. With only seven tables in the spot -- there is an outdoor dining area during the warmer months this is a restaurant where personal service is truly part of the dining experience.
Breakfast is served from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lunch items are offered from 11 a.m. to 3 pm. Wednesday through Saturday.
Albrecht explained that her menu changes with the seasons. With fall and winter, there is more of an emphasis on apple and pumpkin dishes as well as more soups, stews and chills offered.
For breakfast, the menu features such items as blue corn pancakes served with syrup, butter and mixed berries for $9.95 and $7.95 for a short stack. There is a benedict of the day ($9.25) and chiliquiles ($9.95), which are three-egg omelets with chicken or chorizo sausage, black beans, cheese, tomatoes and fresh made guacamole served with salsa, sour cream and tortilla strips.
Mike opted for a breakfast special ($7.95) of eggs, toast and red bliss breakfast potatoes. There was also a generous portion of fruit on his ample plate. The toast was two hearty slices of fresh homemade bread and Mike struggled a bit through the filling meal.
He was impressed that when he ordered hot tea, he was given a box with a wide variety of tea from which to choose.
Courtney and I wanted lunch and she ordered one of the daily specials, a grilled Moroccan chicken salad ($9.95). Her salad was topped with perfectly spiced curried strips of chicken breast and featured feta cheese, grapes, dried cranberries and couscous.
Other lunch options include tuna salad and chicken salad sandwiches (both $8.95) a turkey club quesadilla ($8.95) and "Thanksgiving All Year," Albrecht's version of a turkey sandwich with light cranberry mayonnaise ($8.95).
Knowing we were going to try dessert, I decided to be good and order a salad and I couldn't resist her crab cakes served over a bed of greens, mandarin oranges, roasted red peppers capers and green onions with a citrus vinaigrette ($11.95). I love crab cakes and I can honestly say Albrecht's rendition of the classic American dish was the best I've had.
Although all of these meals were filling, the three of us made the ultimate sacrifice for journalism and had dessert. Albrecht knows baked goods -- she had operated a bakery, Auntie Cathie's, for years -- and there is a wide variety of goodies offered.
After some deliberation, we chose a "Mostess cupcake" -- Albrecht's version of the junk food favorite -- a key lime tart and a flour-free chocolate torte.
Not being a trained food critic, please forgive my use of the phrase "Oh Mommy, Daddy!" The desserts were tremendous.
This is a gem of a restaurant and if you love fresh, innovative food at reasonable prices, you should check out 3 Caf very soon.
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