There’s no need for me to review the Red Eye Cafe. I’ve already been called out as a devotee in a Baristanet post here. Did Ms. Galant need to say I’d been there three times in three days? Thanks a lot! Ah well. It’s true. And since then I’ve been back several more times. Because of my intense exposure to the place, I feel like I have an obligation to share the specifics of my admiration for this cafe on Walnut Street.
First, the very cool art depicting the intersection of all the coffee drinks was created by the owner of the Red Eye Cafe, Anthony Brinton. Don’t you want a print of this for your kitchen? (Note to Anthony: Open an Etsy store.)
Second, as a bibliophile, the decor couldn’t be more attractive. An alcove towards the back of the dining room is surrounded by bookshelves with a simply fabulous collection of books. McSweeney’s AND the Calvin and Hobbes collection? Simply Fabulous. But that wouldn’t be enough. I can get free WiFi and an awesome book selection at the library. The Terra Cafe would even provide some delicious Chai. So, what else?
Well, there’s one of my addictions available in plenty. Coffee. There is a menu just for coffee. I’ve tried the regular coffee, cappuccino, latte, the dirty chai, and my very favorite ever: The New Orleans Sludge Coffee. They were all delicious, but I’d save the dirty chai for an after dinner drink next time. The selection of tea is quite nice as well. Hot or cold. And that would be fine, but if I only drank the NOSluC (I just totally made that up. Don’t blame the Red Eye Cafe for that.) all morning, I’d end up saying highly inappropriate things in rapid-fire succession. Too much caffeine on an empty stomach makes for awkward conversations. So, what else?
Breakfast: I’ve thrown all hope of a slim summer out the window. I could eat the Red Eye Hash for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. I ask for it without the meat. Still savory and delicious. My first time with the hash was in the Red Eye Sub. It’s a breakfast sandwich that will make you forget there ever was a “Mc” between egg and muffin. And that’s just the start. There are several egg dishes, and I’ve heard that even though it’s not on the menu, parents with picky kids can request just a scrambled egg if the Sweet Scramble is overly tasty. And if eggs are disgusting to you, there is always the Elvis, a sandwich that includes banana, peanut butter, and honey. Or, more simply, there are several pastries and muffins to choose. And if you decide to sleep in and miss breakfast, there is always lunch.
Salads, sandwiches, roast beef, chicken, eggplant, hummus, and tuna salad give people plenty of options. I’ve become quite enamored of the Hummus and Hot Sauce sandwich, which comes with a salad. My husband also tried The Highlander, a Scotch egg banh mi that made him very happy. It’s a thoroughly untraditional banh mi with hints of Vietnam remaining. My better half said that it was filling, satisfying, and just plain good.
Then there are the pastries. The last time I went, the strawberry rhubarb squares were gone – gone! I settled for a brownie, and it was divine. I’ve also tried a cupcake – not only are they huge, they are spectacular. And I’ll have you know that I split the brownie and cupcake with two other people on two separate occasions. The strawberry rhubarb bar is small (and cheap at $1.50), so it’s perfect for not sharing. And you won’t want to share.
There are tables in a lovely outdoor garden-alley area. Inside the cafe is seating for about three dozen more patrons. It’s been just about filled for lunch whenever I’ve stopped in. Yet, the busyness never feels overwhelming. The staff has personality, and they are friendly and talkative. Free WiFi (it can be spotty, but it’s there) and a bathroom with a changing table and shaving mirror (?) round out the requirements for just about every type of area resident.
In conclusion (because doesn’t this lengthy missive feel like it needs one?), please never stop in to the Red Eye Cafe at 94 Walnut Street in Montclair. I want it to myself. Don’t show up at 7 am when they open on weekdays. And certainly not at 9 am on weekends. Don’t come in for a delicious lunch because you want to find out what the heck a Scotch Egg is. Don’t come in for a dessert after you see a movie that lets out at 9:45 pm. And do NOT drink all the New Orleans Sludge Coffee. I will find you, and you won’t like me when I’ve had no coffee. Order over the phone for delivery and leave the place to me. Thank you very much.