Recently, I was in the mood for an old-fashioned deli sandwich. I was looking for someplace I had not been before and found an ad for the Starving Artist Café.
Situated in a mini strip mall at 8034 New Lagrange Road in the Lyndon neighborhood, this is just the kind of hole-in-the-wall place where you often find good food. And it has a funky charm all its own.
The first thing you notice walking in is that it appears to be a throwback to a 1960s coffeehouse. (I actually had a brief flashback to 1967 in a place called ‘Somewhere Else’ in Butte, Montana.)
The walls are emblazoned with psychedelic posters and hangings. There is even a sign that says “Hippies Use Side Door.” (There is no side door.)
The staff also looked the part. And from the first moment I contacted Tim, the owner, I found everyone there to be extremely friendly. It’s the kind of place where you’re comfortable right away.
The menu is pretty much what you would expect from a deli cafe — soups, salads, and sandwiches. But there were some intriguing choices. I opted for the ‘Elvis Presley’, a roast beef sandwich with bacon and cheese on a hoagie roll. The sandwich, chips and a drink came to $9.48.
I arrived after the primary lunch time and so had no difficulty finding a table. However, online reviews indicate that this is a very popular restaurant, so you may want to consider that if you want to enjoy the ambiance.
Service was very speedy but it had something more. These days, we have become accustomed to a server just plopping down a meal in front of us, maybe with a halfhearted “can I get you anything else?” This was not the case at the Starving Artist. Tim delivered my sandwich accompanied by a smile, some friendly banter, and even a joke. It was an easy place to get used to.
The sandwich was everything I hoped it would be. The roast beef was tender; the bacon was thick and crispy. The only criticism that I would have, personally, was that the hoagie roll seemed a little heavy. I would attribute that to the large amounts of butter that were apparently in the recipe — a little heavy but very delicious.
Not unusual with this type of establishment, hours are limited. They are open from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM during the week, except for Wednesdays when they close at 3:00 PM. They are closed on weekends.
Online reviews showed some criticism of the short hours, but I would disagree. This is the kind of place where you go for lunch, brunch, or maybe to grab a quick bite to take home if you get off early. They are actually open longer hours than other places of this type that I have found.
The only drawback, for some people, is that they only take cash. Your credit card, Apple pay, Google pay, Chase pay, and whatever other fancy electronic forms of payment you might have are no good here — just good old-fashioned American cash.
This was my first, but won’t be my last stop at the Starving Artist. I felt the prices were reasonable for the amount of food you get and it was very good. And for those of us of a certain age, a little bit of Haight-Ashbury vibe didn’t hurt either.