Charm City Cafe

The Baltimore Sun

7612 Belair Road, in Belair Beltway Plaza shopping center, 410-882-1255. Open 7:30 a.m-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m-4 p.m. Saturday.

The Charm City Cafe had me the minute I spotted the easy chair. A big, yellow armchair and companion sofa resided in the back of this cozy new establishment. There were few conventional restaurant chairs and tables where diners could sit and eat, but many of the customers grab food and go.

As I waited for my order, I headed straight for the soft stuff. Since the cafe is in the Belair Beltway Plaza shopping center, one stoplight south of the Belair Road exit off Interstate 695, it offers harried Beltway drivers like me a relaxing place to sit, forget the traffic and smell the soup.

In addition to the furniture, I liked the food. The cream of mushroom soup, $2.75 a cup, was creamy and full of flavorful fungi.

The cafe menu emphasized conventional sandwiches, served on whole-grain, wheat or country-white bread, and pressed panini.

I opted for a conventional sandwich, a Canton Smoke, $6.50, which lived up to its name on two counts. First, its turkey had slightly smoky notes. Second, the chipotle mayonnaise was fiery. With bits of tomato, corn salsa and Swiss cheese, it was a superb sandwich, one of the best I have eaten lately.

The menu has a variety of hand-tossed salads, too. Judging by the complimentary salad (greens with tangy ranch dressing) that came with my sandwich, the greenery here is also top-notch.

The chocolate brownie, 75 cents, was homemade but a bit chewy.

Charm City Cafe opened in December, owner Sheena Wilt told me by phone. She said she put the soft furniture in the back of the cafe because "I wanted a place that was more than a deli, a place people can feel comfortable."

Sure enough, as soon as I left the cafe, another customer took my spot in the easy chair.

Rob Kasper

charm city cafe

Best bite: Canton Smoke sandwich, $6.50

Also tasted: cream of mushroom soup, $2.75 a cup; chocolate brownie, 75 cents

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