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Digging Town & Country Cafe's Neighborhood Vibe

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Our lunch at Silver Lake's Town & Country happened simply because we needed an easygoing lunch spot between the day's point A and point B. We were looking for something new to us, or even better, something newer to the restaurant scene, but we were working on the fly, without the safety net of our ever-growing Excel-organized database of restaurants to try. We exited the 101's blissfully light midday flow on Silver Lake Boulevard, and made that stretch of Sunset up to the Hollywood split our selection territory. Sure, there were the usual suspects, like Millie's and Eat Well, and newer-ish offerings, like Dusty's. But we cruised past Town & Country and our brain did one of those trigger reactions, and we remembered reading about its opening in the summer, and something about a full deli case and baked goods, and...hey, there's a parking spot right out front! And that's how we tumbled into Town & Country for a weekday lunch.

So right off the bat we noticed that the employees seemed to really like their jobs. It's not often enough we sense that in any given establishment. But there was this quirky enthusiasm for what was on the menu, and rather than be recited the specials in a drone we were informed with energy and what read as legitimate pride that they served breakfast all day, and they had some really great soup, and...well, we don't remember it all but we remember how nice it was to walk in there and be greeted this way. We were in a sandwichy mood, and we zeroed in on the grilled chicken with caramelized onions and cheese, and selected a house salad of spring greens as a side, and an iced latte to drink--it was one of those sunny-in-late-fall days that called for iced caffeinated beverages.

Our salad showed up right away, and we couldn't wait for our sandwich to dig into the greens enlivened with blue cheese and pecans in balsamic vinaigrette. Actually, we finished it before our sandwich even arrived at our table, which we think was partly our fault for being hungry and impatient, and a little bit about unbalanced timing and the fine line between side salad and salad as appetizer. In any event, our sandwich looked a little forlorn all alone on its plate, and we wished we'd measured our mouthfuls a little more carefully. The bread was thick and toasty, the chicken moist and tender, and the onions and goat cheese a nice blend of pungent and mellow. There was something off about the sandwich in terms of weight of flavors, though. It needed something snappy and fresh, like greens or veggies, to even it out. We took some of the bread off and went at it with the knife-and-fork approach, which made things better. Don't get us wrong...it was delicious! Just a bit much all at once like that.

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We were so full of bread and chicken and cheese and milky cool coffee, though, that we didn't allow for any of their desserts, all of which are baked on the premises and look phenomenal--things like banana, coconut & lime bread, cupcakes, brownies, and cookies. We watched as folks streamed in and out, phone orders were put together, and everyone was greeted with the same enthusiasm we had been. That was eveness, and that was what made the difference. The owner was out and about in the dining area, pressing takeout bags holding cups of matzoh ball soup into the hands of regulars; from where we sat it just seemed like she cared. We like that. It's the neighborhood vibe that makes small places like this do well, even if they have to charge a bit too much for a chicken sandwich ($8.95) so they can make the rent. Next time we'll either pace ourselves, try something else, and definitely save room for dessert.

Town & Country Cafe
3823 West Sunset Boulevard, Silver Lake
(323-667-3331).