The Village Square Cafe is a modest, bright and spotlessly clean place in Roland Park with few pretensions.
It understands that delivering the right experience must begin with the owners and run down the line to servers, cooks and bus boys. It seems a simple enough credo for success, and here, they do it well.
The lunch menu is understandably heavy on sandwiches, but there are also pizza, wraps and omelets.
The great list of sandwiches ranges from $7.95 for the BLT to $9.95 for the half-pound burger and fries, with the other sandwiches, including a stellar Reuben, priced at $8.95.
The only exception is the half-pound turkey burger for $10.95 — and if turkey burgers are your thing, you'll like this one.
The one sandwich I invariably order is the Rachel. I don't know who Rachel is, but I'd love to have this sandwich named after me. It has hand-carved turkey on tender rye with terrific cole slaw and Russian dressing — as with all dressings here, house-made.
I alternate that with the hand-carved turkey club ($8.95), which has the same turkey, crisp hickory smoked bacon, swiss, lettuce, tomato and a garlic aioli that I could eat with a spoon.
What I find impressive is that someone in the kitchen knows how important balance is in making the lowly sandwich. Each ingredient is carefully layered so that the last bite is as good as the first.
There are countless places in Baltimore to get a lunch. But if good food, value and accommodating service are the criteria, Village Square Cafe should certainly be high up on the list.
A tip: If you ever see the cranberry almond muffins on the counter, get one. You'll be glad you did — whether or not you're on a diet. Take it with a carefully brewed Zeke's dark roast out on one of the more pleasant outdoor patios in the city.
Village Square Cafe
Where: 66 Village Square, in the Village of Cross Keys
Contact: 410-433-2233, villagesquarecafe.com
Hours: 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
Lunch entrees: $7.95-$10.95