Cunningham's offers a comforting cafe and bakery in Towson

A breakfast-and-lunch cafe with a happy hour — now, we're talking.

Cunningham's Cafe & Bakery in Towson celebrates the end of the workday with 50 percent off beer and wine along with 50 percent off its freshly made bread and select pastries.


That's reason enough to stop by this charming spot, an offshoot of the dinner-only, stunningly decorated Cunningham's restaurant, which is upstairs in the renovated Towson City Center. But you also want to stop by for the cafe's excellent breakfast and lunch fare or perhaps a mid-morning or late-afternoon coffee and pastry.

Cunningham's Cafe, part of the Bagby Restaurant Group that also operates Fleet Street Kitchen and Ten Ten in Harbor East (as well as Bagby Pizza), sources many of its products from the restaurant group's own farm, including its ham and eggs. The breads and pastries are made in house, just a stone's throw away from the counter where they are sold.

On a recent day, bins were filled with sourdough, three-seed and country white loaves. Specials featured a roasted veggie and feta frittata and a ham and Manchego omelet in addition to regular offerings like pancakes, salads and sandwiches.

Go ahead have a hot brew or a cold one. Cunningham's Cafe knows how to meet its customers' needs.

Scene & Decor Wood details add a rustic flair to the cozy room with pale yellow walls and scenic photographs by David Smith, president of the Bagby Restaurant Group. Its homespun earnestness is reinforced by shelves neatly lined with canned goods, baskets of bread, a pastry display case and wood tables and chairs. Customers can also grab a stool at a wall counter for a sit-down meal.

Appetizers Several soups get you off to a good start, from a soothing tomato to a hearty ham and lentil. The curry carrot soup ($3.50, cup; $6, bowl) was a rich vegetable puree relaying a subtle bite of the Indian spice blend. A slice of dense bread, fresh from an oven on the other side of the kitchen door, was a stellar vehicle for dunking.

Entrees The harvest greens salad ($9) was a plateful of mixed greens, golden chunks of roasted butternut squash, dabs of goat cheese, dried cranberries and candied walnuts, gently washed with a sherry vinaigrette. You can add chicken, salmon or steak for an extra charge. The roasted veggie powerhouse ($9) was thick with roasted eggplant slices and red and yellow peppers that had been marinated to glory in garlic and rosemary. The soft veggies were stuffed between multigrain bread that was lathered with hummus and goat cheese. The pale winter tomato slice in the mix was an unnecessary distraction. We added a side order of satiny mac and cheese ($5) that was enhanced with a whiff of truffle oil.

Drinks The cafe's espresso bar delivers the usual caffeinated concoctions plus specialty drinks like a Nutella latte ($4.75) and habanero hot chocolate ($4.50). You'll also find hot and iced teas, juices, three beers including Resurrection from Brewer's Art ($6), four wines by the glass or bottle, including a French sauvignon blanc ($7/$28). There's also a weekday happy hour from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. with 50 percent off wine and beer.

Service Diners order at a counter. Food is then brought to the table. Appropriate bins are available for self-cleanup.

Dessert Choose your desserts from the many temptations in the bakery case. The chewy raspberry almond streusel ($2.25) was a wonderful finish, as were the pastel pistachio and raspberry macaroons ($1.75 each).