My Little Corner of the Net

Camille\’s Sidewalk Cafe

When the owners of Park Place Deli decided to retire last fall, they assured their loyal customers that they had hand picked a new owner for the facility that would bring something different, but similar to the neighborhood. For several months we watched as the storefront was transformed into Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe, a transformation that included a large addition onto the back of the building and the addition of windows where there once was a long row of beverage coolers. Camille’s finally opened about two weeks ago.

Each of us having had a long day yesterday and neither feeling like cooking, Denise and I decided to try Camille’s for dinner last night. We walked the block or so from my house to its Berkley and Park location. Upon entering we found a warm and inviting atmosphere with dimmed lights and subdued colors, although the quaintness of its predecessor is lost with posters of past Park Ave Festivals replaced with large photographs of popular menu selections and dense logo placement that screams corporate franchise.

The menu is large, consisting of several different wraps and panini grilled sandwiches as well as soups and smoothies. I chose the Tex-Mex club wrap while Denise decided on the Napa Valley chicken panini. Prices were reasonable with both sandwiches and two fountain sodas costing about $16. The typical deli-style service (you order at the counter and pick up your food when your name is called) was very fast, with my name being called while I was still filling my soda cup.

My initial reaction to my wrap was that is was kind of small. At about four inches long it didn’t compare to the huge wraps and subs I was used to getting at Park Place for about the same cost. It tasted good, but the tortilla was steamed, giving a weird sticky texture, not unlike a Chinese pot sticker, Denise said that the sundried tomato peston on her sandwich tasted more like marinara sauce than pesto. Both sandwiches came with a side of multicolored tortilla chips and a small cup of what we thought was marinara sauce until we looked at the menu a second time and found out it was salsa.

The verdict? Although the service was excellent, the food was only mediocre. Although I probably will visit again sometime when I’m in a rush and need a quick bite to eat, I don’t think that I’ll become a regular.

The sidewalk cafe concept certainly fits into the Park Ave neighborhood, but on a street of small, local eateries, the Camille’s chain seems a little awkward. I’d have preferred to see another mom-and-pop open up there instead.

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