There is nothing like the arrival of a cool coffee shop to broadcast a neighborhood's transformation. Patterson Perk, just south of Patterson Park, is proof that the East Baltimore neighborhood is perking.
With its exposed brick, art displays, free dog treats, house blend and Indie soundtrack, the Perk caters quite well to those who live near the park or walk their dogs there.
Pooches are welcome in the small corner shop, and there's a nice guide to dog breeds on a shelf in case anyone is in the market for a new pet. Even the coffee shop's logo is hip: the Patterson Park pagoda rendered as a five-tier coffeepot.
Panini sandwiches are a recent addition to the Patterson Perk, which is fully equipped for every possible coffee drink, hot and cold. The menu includes three variations of the grilled sandwich (all costing $4), plus the option to build your own. We ordered one of each of the three standard sandwiches.
The ham and cheese with Dijon mustard was straightforward and good, if not delectable. Another choice - the turkey with cranberry chutney and munster cheese - combined Italian decadence with good, all-American Pilgrim fare. The third sandwich, a turkey and Swiss with sun-dried tomatoes, was also a satisfying blend of traditional and offbeat ingredients.
The paninis, slathered with margarine, were not squeezed flat as were others I've had. A little more pressure would have contributed to the good and greasy effect.
We also took home a ready-made hummus sandwich ($4) with wedges of tomato and cucumber on a roll that could have been a little more zesty.
Some of the desserts (all $1.80), not baked on the premises, were a tad dry. The chocolate brownie, in particular, had that day-old taste, and the same could be said for the cappuccino yogurt bread with chocolate chips. On the other hand, the pumpkin bread and the raspberry cheesecake brownie were moist and flavorful.
The Patterson Perk is a great perk for its neighborhood. And while it's worth a try if you're in the neighborhood, it's not worth crossing town for, given the small food selection.
Parking is on the street and may require a short walk.
Food: ** 1/2
Service: ** 1/2
Waiting area: ***
Where: 2501 Eastern Ave., East Baltimore
Web site: www. pattersonperk.com
Hours: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday@SUBHEDPrices: Coffee drinks from $1.40 to $4.60; soups, sandwiches and panini, $3.50 to $5.95; credit cards accepted
Outstanding: ****; Good: ***; Fair or uneven: **; Poor: *