Happy caff/decaf, days are here again!
I have been fielding questions about “coffee houses” for a good while now. In fact, it’s been since the Living Room shuttered its doors, because it was one of my regular haunts.
Certainly, there are places aplenty where you can get coffee – restaurants, convenience stores, art galleries, book stores, chains, performance spaces, your own kitchen, etc., but we have been lacking a space dedicated to the art, comfort and luxury of well crafted, non-alcoholic beverages. A spot where you can stay as long as you want to luxuriate over a good book, catch up with a friend or have a meeting, without feeling like you have to order more than a beverage, although you will likely be tempted.
The eclectic menu, the handiwork of Culinary Institute of America graduate, Chef Peter Sinish, has something for everyone and then some. In the past, I have been impressed with his culinary acumen, but he has a different vibe at Caffe Diem. He is jazzed about everything he makes and his passion resonates in the offerings.
On my second visit, I did take away for a meeting and was not disappointed, except for the fact that they were out of the seductive sticky buns with pecans that had beckoned the day before.
I ordered a sampling – a pomegranate scone; Ebony and Ivory cheesecake; a mixed fruit tart; rosemary and lemon biscotti and a brownie. Of those, we had our likes and dislikes.
My friends and bakers extraordinaire, Jo Vereen and Cindy and Cathy Collins, liked all of the above with the exception of the brownie, which they described “as a little different, a bit like bread pudding.”
My hands down favorite was the biscotti; moister than traditional offerings; it had a nice gingery flavor profile. I liked the tart as it was not overly sweet and the crust was pleasantly crumbly and not at all soggy, despite the juicy fresh fruit, and the cheesecake was as pretty as it was tasty. I found the scone a little dry, but liked the bite of the pomegranate flavor.
On my next visit, I finally had time to savor the coffee – Larry’s Fair Trade, organic. Although my usual is an Americano, I decided to indulge in a Cortado – half espresso, half froth-infused milk. Zikes! One sip transported me to the Standard Bakery in Seattle, and every fiber of my being did a little happy dance. It was robust but smooth, bold without being unctuous. What more could you ask for?
A unique twist on breakfast/brunch/lunch you say? You are in luck.
The ABC – apple, bacon and cheese sandwich served on French toast drizzled with honey sesame – hits all the right notes. It’s sweet and savory and the contrasting flavors play well against one another. I also really appreciated that the side of fruit was not an afterthought. It was fresh, and every bite was heightened by a hint of fresh basil.
The very moist, not overly sweet gluten-free brownie was a nice finishing touch, especially when accompanied by a soupcon of their homemade butter mints.
Proprietress Kristina Renee Mammel brings her experience as a roaster, a decorator’s touch (creating a chichi big city feel that is still warm and welcoming) and a gracious approach to customer service that is sure to make Caffe Diem the newest Grand Strand hot spot.
My advice: Skateboard, walk, run, golf cart, bike, drive, rollerblade, Segway to Caffe Diem tout suite and seize your pleasure be it coffee, tea, hot chocolate, Chai, Italian soda or sparkling water.