Sunday, February 9, 2014

Cafe io

Now that my disgustingly debilitating illness has moved on to its next victim, I've abandoned my Jello diet and have begun eating solids again. The chewing motion was foreign at first, but now I'm chewing food all on my own and have been preparing meals, as well. Near pneumonia, you cannot defeat me!

Craving some socialization, I spent yesterday afternoon dining with AA and Stemstar, two of my favorite friends, at Mount Lebanon's Cafe io.  This was my first time there, but I had been dying to try it for awhile.

I met AA in seventh grade and still can't fathom how the quiet, timid scholar I met back then has developed into the tattooed wild child of present day. She is bright, holds a great job and works hard; however, AA has a social life that makes me laugh and shake my head simultaneously. I can't keep up with her and prefer to have her over to my house for dinner before she ventures out on the weekend evenings like the 21-year-old she thinks that she is.

Stemstar and I have been acting as one person since freshman year of college. We met during our first semester and ended up having several classes together, eventually moving in together, and confusing people on campus since day one. People were never quite sure if we were dating, friends, or the same person split between two cranky bodies.  Our professors tended to refer to us as one entity and one of my favorite quotes from senior year was that of a classmate who upon seeing us on campus after a night out at the bar together exclaimed "oh my god.... You're STILL together?!" 

AA and Stemstar were introduced while we were all in school and luckily for me, two of my favorite people clicked instantly and a lovely little threesome was born.  So, as I said, the three of us went to Cafe io for Saturday lunch. 

   Photo courtesy of Cafe io's Facebook page

Cafe io is located on Beverly Road in Mount Lebanon, a busy little shopping center with multiple eateries and coffee shops.  Parking is sparse, but luckily, a spot was vacated just as AA and I pulled up in front of the restaurant. At noon on Saturday, the restaurant was completely empty, so the waitstaff seemed eager to assist us quickly. The dining room is comfortable, has several seating options and a lot of natural light brought in by large window fronts.

I ordered ice water and a Bloody Mary while we waited for Stemstar to arrive.  The Bloody Mary was good and garnished with a single celery stalk and a skewer of olives. I enjoyed the drink, although I do prefer my Bloody Mary to be a bit spicier.  

Once Stemstar arrived, our server took our orders and was great with describing menu options with detail.  I ordered the ham and cheese pretzelwich, sliced ham piled on a pretzel bun and topped with Gouda, with honey mustard dipping sauce,  I have a sick adoration of pretzels and was in no position to choose anything else on the menu.  Pretzel buns always win, especially those featuring Gouda.  AA ordered tomato cream fettuccini sans shrimp and Stemstar ordered the roasted turkey sandwich (also featuring Gouda) and a bowl of loaded brisket soup, which was served over fried polenta.  

Stemstar's soup arrived first and looked pretty fantastic.  Stemstar agreed that it was great and happily  ate the entire serving.  Our meals came and everything looked good.  Our server was attentive in ensuring that we had everything that we needed and that our food was satisfactory.  

My ham and Gouda sandwich was good and the pretzel bun was filling, but not overly heavy.  The Gouda paired with freshly sliced ham was delicious and sadly, I couldn't finish it all.  I will admit that I abandoned some of the ham and devoured the remaining pretzel bun with melted Gouda.  The side of fries was okay.  They were not the best fries that I have ever had, but they were decent.  Both AA and Stemstar enjoyed their meals as well, and Stemstar even took half of his sandwich home for later.   He informed me that it made a fantastic snack after he retuned home from the bar later that night.  

Our server failed to separate our bills, but assured us that he could do so easily by taking each of our debit cards and splitting the check at the register.  There was some mild confusion over my and AA's checks, as we both have names beginning and ending in "A," and I later checked my online banking statement to find that I had been incorrectly charged.  Just be sure that you request separate checks before being brought the final bill. 

Overall, Cafe io is a good lunch spot and I would be willing to go back.  The prices are a little high for what you get, but the eatery is a nice alternative to the many chain restaurants in this limited area.  Next time that I'm in the mood for a pretzel and Gouda, I'll know where to go.

Cafe io on Urbanspoon

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