WEEKEND | A mixed bag at Woodland

I wanted to like Woodland Coffee and Tea. It’s hidden enough to be intriguing, small enough to be quaint, and it’s right next door to my best friend’s apartment — how convenient would that be?

I entered the café last weekend full of hopes as my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting of the narrow space. I was cheered to see it was dingily cozy, but not quite as cozy as I thought — later, I would see that they have a second, larger room to the right of the counter.

The café has a surprisingly extensive menu, and I am notoriously indecisive, so I asked the guy behind the counter for a recommendation. He offered the Thai peanut chicken wrap. A Thai wrap at Woodland Coffee and Tea? That was a quick “no-thank-you.” Then he suggested a a turkey bacon, egg and cheese sandwich ($4.95). It was quickly assembled and pressed in a panini machine. I think I might have heard some microwave action going down, although I couldn’t see past the counter to confirm.

I took my sandwich and retreated to the larger dining area, which is dotted with mismatched tables and chairs. When it comes to my sandwiches, I am very finicky about having the right ratio of toppings to bread, and in this department, Woodland Coffee and Tea utterly failed. All the toppings were clumped in the center of the sandwich, so that a significant portion of the sandwich was merely bread on bread. The horrors!

The bread, which was nutty and grainy, was dried out on the edges and limp in the middle. The cheese (I think mozzarella) quickly congealed, and the turkey bacon was dry. All in all, it was a great disappointment. Afterward, I went home and cried to my suitemates: “But I WANTED to like Woodland Coffee and Tea!” “Did you try the hummus sandwich ($7.95)?” they asked. When I said no, they gasped. “But it’ll change everything!”

The next day, I went back. “I’ll have the hummus sandwich!” I told the lady behind the counter. She nodded sagely. “It’s one of our most popular items,” she said. The sandwich consisted of: the same bread (untoasted, it tasted a little stale); a layer of hummus; a layer of tomatoes, red onions, and cucumbers; a layer of feta cheese, black olives, and peppers; and a layer of greens topped with balsamic vinegar. The toppings-to-bread proportions were suitable, and the sandwich was refreshing, although it would have benefited from a different kind of bread.

Although I went to the cafe to get some reading done (the perfect spot because it’s usually pretty deserted and their wireless is perpetually broken), I was too distracted with my sandwich to do any work for my class. Post-hummus sandwich, I can say that Woodland Coffee and Tea is a nice hiding spot to hole up in. They have a decent loose leaf tea selection (and Bee House teapots! The cutest teapots of them all!), just don’t go there for the sandwiches.

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