Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Carma's Cafe

When I'm not fulfilling my duties as Mr. Minx, one half of the Dining Duo, I toil as a fiction writer of modest repute. Since writing is a solitary vocation, it's nice to get out once in awhile and meet with fellow writers to share stories, commiserate about the dismal state of publishing, and generally talk about the craft of writing. That's why I enjoy getting together with friend and poet, Shirley Brewer, from time to time to have a cathartic chat. We usually meet at Belvedere Square, but they were doing some remodeling recently, so we decided to meet somewhere in her neighborhood of Charles Village. We ended up at Carma's Cafe.

Located on the corner of St. Paul and 32nd Streets, this tiny cafe has limited seating inside and some outdoor tables. Fortunately for us, the Johns Hopkins students were on summer break and it was not raining, so we got to enjoy our lunch outside. Carma's Cafe offers a wide selection of soups, salads, and breakfast items served all day. In addition to the regular menu, specials featuring seasonal ingredients are listed on plates hanging from the wall. Since it is tomato season, many of the specials featured that savory fruit. I opted for the Sourdough Grilled Cheese (apparently a perennial favorite) with a cup of their creamy tomato basil soup, while Shirley chose the BLT with a side salad.

After paying for our order, we were given our drinks and we went outside to scout for a table. We both ordered ginger beer and I believe this is exactly what ginger beer is supposed to taste like. I've had commercial products in the past that were disappointing because they tasted like ginger ale. Carma's ginger beer had the sharp ginger flavor I was expecting, like biting into a ginger snap. It also had just a hint of sweetness and the right amount of lemon to make it refreshing.

BLT with side salad
A few minutes after sitting down, our food arrived. Shirley's BLT held crispy bacon, ripe tomatoes, and mesclun greens between two slices of lightly toasted sourdough bread. The side salad provided another dose of mesclun. I thought it rude to ask for a bite, but Shirley seemed to enjoy it greatly.

Sourdough Grilled Cheese with Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
My sandwich was also on lightly grilled sourdough bread. The bread itself was hearty and held together well with the extremely gooey cheddar and Swiss cheeses. The soup had a rustic chunkiness to it and a good balance between the acidity of the tomatoes and the richness of the cream. The addition of basil gave it that fresh-from-the-garden quality that's perfect for a warm summer day.

If you're not in the mood for a meal, Carma's also offers coffee, frozen drinks, and cookies. It's a great place to spend some time relaxing, chatting, and watching the bustling activity along St. Paul Street.

Carma's Cafe
3120 Saint Paul St
Baltimore, MD 21218
(410) 243-5200

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