Donna's Coffee Bar
2 W. Madison at Charles St. Hours: Open Mon.-Thurs. 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Fri., 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Sat. 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Sun. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (410) 385-0180.
The sight of platters heaped with roasted vegetables standing next to plates with thick slices of cake and the smell of fresh bread which curls into the aroma of coffee help make a trip to Donna's become an excursion for the senses.
The menu offers a tempting array of soups, salads, sandwiches and dinner pastas. Donna's Salad ($4.75) changes slightly each day depending upon available fresh ingredients. A typical presentation includes roasted vegetables -- artichokes, sweet potatoes, new potatoes, eggplant, leeks, asparagus and beets -- with several types of lettuce. The dressing is a homemade vinaigrette. Salads and soups come with a variety of freshly baked breads.
The soups at Donna's change daily ($2.75 and $3.75 at lunch; $4 at dinner) A recent triumph was a pureed potato, leek and carrot soup which had a satisfying chunky texture.
Sandwiches include Sicilian tuna salad ($4.95) with red onions, capers and olives on herb sourdough bread or focaccia and roast turkey breast ($4.95) with roasted sweet red peppers, mixed salad greens and a tapenade spread served on whole wheat sourdough bread. Donna's "pan bagnia" ($5.95) consists of mortadella, prosciutto, cappicola and provolone with marinated artichoke hearts and black olives on a sourdough baguette.
Dinner pastas ($8.95 to $11) range from baked lasagna to penne with smoked salmon in a cream sauce.
The cafe also serves such desserts as Sicilian cassata cake, ($3.50) a pound cake layered with sweet ricotta and chocolate, and a variety of coffees.