Ideally, restaurant visits are remembered more for winning food and quality of experience than for ordering confusion and pangs of "green guilt." But during a recent trip to River Towne Café, a 6-month-old soup, salad and sandwich shop, those annoy-
ances detracted from an otherwise enjoyable meal.
Walk-up ordering at this Midlothian eatery can be frustrating. Prepared items work down the line and can, as did mine, end up in a grab-bag sort of pile at the cash register. What belongs to whom sometimes comes into question. Even for eat-in items, heavy amounts of disposables are employed. Soups and sides come in disposable cups with lids, sandwiches are wrapped and then bagged, and drink containers are throwaway. Pitching all this stuff at meal's end — a mere 10 feet from the point of purchase, no less — doesn't sit well in the newly filled tummy.
On the positive side, the café's space is pleasantly open, brightly colored and squeaky clean. The offerings are mostly satisfying, too. Lovers of tandem turkey and coleslaw will dig the River Towne sandwich (shown). Kids, meanwhile, are sure to enjoy their warm, jelly-oozing PB&Js. Also tasty is the piping hot tomato soup. Flecks of basil add flavor and help make this the perfect cold-day sandwich companion. Gooey chocolate-chip cookies and sticky-sweet, whole-pecan pralines are both fine finales.
Not as impressive is the potato salad, which contains little besides potatoes and plain-ish dressing. Good thing it only costs about a buck.
First-time restaurateurs Kimberly Jenkins and Christopher McNeill have in River Towne Café a light-meal destination with some promise. More organized ordering processes and wider use of washables, though, would help them better reach that potential.
1282 Alverser Plaza, 379-2112
Prices: Soups, salads and sandwiches $2.99 to $6.65; sides, sweets, shakes, malts and smoothies 99 cents to $2.69.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.