9450 Montgomery Road
We often pass through the pretty community of Montgomery on our way to and from Breadsmith's but until recently we hadn’t actually spent any time in the city’s downtown Heritage District. There are 32 buildings in this area that are considered Montgomery landmarks, eight of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. On a recent sunny Sunday we found ourselves in the area and decided to stop and have a leisurely wander.
I imagine that parking must be an issue in the city, because at nearly every turn there was signage warning that parking was for customers of certain stores and restaurants only. Although most places weren’t open on Sunday, we didn’t want to take a chance and park somewhere that we might get ticketed, so we drove around until we found a city parking lot next to the Fellowship Baptist Church (built in 1829) on Shelly Lane, one block west of Montgomery Road.
The sun was deceptive and pretty soon we were hankering for a place out of the wind where we could relax and warm up, so we decided to try our luck at the European Café.
The little restaurant was doing a brisk business and there were no empty tables left, so we opted to sit at the communal nook along the front windows so that we could watch the world go by as we ate. We weren’t sure what type of food they specialized in, but a glance at their menu indicated a Mediterranean flare, which meant plenty of vegetarian choice. Hooray! We sat down with mugs of hot chocolate and perused the menu.
All but two of the restaurant’s appetizers are vegetarian: there are plenty of salads on the list, as well as pita & hummus, cheese fries and deep-fried green beans, which although not the healthiest of options, intrigued us enough to give them a shot. I had perhaps naively imagined that they would have a batter similar to tempura, but they were more akin to the deep-fried vegetables you normally find at sports bars. They weren’t bad, and the spicy ranch dipping sauce gave them a nice kick, but Steve and I both felt that they were overpriced at $4.95.
The European Café offers breakfast all day on Sunday (they close at 2 p.m.) but since we’d already had a light breakfast early that morning we decided to forgo the many omelets, French toast, Belgian waffles, pancakes and egg sandwiches on offer, although I have to admit that the idea of a spinach and feta omelet was very tempting.
There are three vegetarian sandwiches listed on their lunch menu: a Greek Wrap (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, feta and Greek dressing) for $5.50, a falafel sandwich for $5.25 and a veggie pita for $4.95. They also offer a falafel platter for $5.75. Excited by the falafel listing, I requested the falafel sandwich, only to be told that they had run out of falafel. D’oh!
In the end I went with the veggie pita, which is a pita sandwich stuffed with lettuce, sautéed tomato, mushroom, green pepper, and onion with your choice of cheese. The sandwich comes with a rather limp pickle spear, a small container of kalamata olives and pepperoncinis, and a generous helping of potato chips. Steve got a gyro and a basket of fries.
Although my sandwich looked really good, I kept encountering a burnt taste and couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. I removed the sandwich from the foil wrapper and inspected the sautéed vegetables, but they were cooked perfectly. Still, every other forkful had a funky, charred taste which was ruining the otherwise tasty sandwich. Finally I checked the underside of the pita and found that there were large bits of charred something or other stuck to the bread. I am guessing that the pita was warmed on the grill and bits of burnt food stuck to it. At first I tried removing the blackened flakes, but as they piled up on the edge of my plate I found that I no longer had much of an appetite, nor did I want to ponder too deeply what those flakes might have been.
That alone would probably make a return visit unlikely, but the restaurant further disappointed when we went up to the counter to pay. The young man running the cash register was busy eating a sandwich when we approached the till, and he never acknowledged our presence as he rang up the bill. He simply grabbed our ticket, totaled it on the register and stood there waiting for payment with a sullen look on his face. Maybe we are old-fashioned, but we both found this completely vocal-free transaction incredibly rude.