The semester begins, leaving Mick and me with opposite schedules. However, we shuffle plans to meet for an early lunch. Mick and I dart into Latte Caf? and Bistro on 486 Congress St.
The door promptly shuts–we are safe, away from the cold of downtown Portland. The front area of the Bistro is styled similar to a delicatessen. A large glass window displays fresh assorted wraps and salads. The counter is home to a few steel kettles filled with tempting soups. The Bistro’s walls are goldenrod yellow with caramel bursts splattered throughout. The dining area is stylish but very practical, falling in with the many cafes in Portland. Black and white prints of yesteryear’s jazz ideals like Ella Fitzgerald trim the walls. The glossy pine floor and velvety jazz music sets a comforting lunch- alone or with a date. The gallery creates the perfect ballroom dance floor, inviting me to take Mick’s hand and begin a tango. Mick and I notice a table nestled next to a wall for two. We happen to sit below Mr. Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra. His presence turns the Bistro into the cat’s meow. Nobody does it (or rathdid it) like Frank. There was just something in the way he wore his hat, in the way he wooed the ladies. Mick is following closely in Sinatra’s footsteps.
The nippy outside air lingers with us. Mick orders earl grey tea ($1.25) to stay toasty and to continue with his fashionable English manner. I decide on chamomile mango tea ($1.25), a tropical taste to hurry spring along, even though I’m content to just sit, relax and dine with Mick on my lunch hour. The mango aroma, which is sweet and spicy, catches Mick’s attention. Mick confesses he likes girls who wear mango scents. Scents are critical, especially on the first few dates. It is assumed daters have primped and are clean prior to the date. The next step is deciding what sort of scent to splash on to lure the date. Does one go for something sweet and sassy or confident and cool? I suggest the economical route. Often a scent can make or break a date. A love potion should be a signature of you–don’t be a clone to the trendy perfumes or colognes. If the only attraction between you and your date is his or her fragrance, it’s a red flag to stop dating. Eventually scents fade. Instead, look for someone who is enchanting intellectually. More often than not, fragrances refine with time.
Mick said time wasn’t on his side today so we go light on this date. Mick has a hankering for something southwestern. He orders a plump quesadilla ($6.50). The tortilla bursts with charming diced green and red peppers and trickles with melted cheese. He also has a heaping bowl of French onion soup. The broth is a rich brown with clumps of thick onion sections. Although onions tend to be on the top of the “do not eat on a date” list, Mick scoops his soup with confidence. He won’t let a few onions taint his breath.
I, on the other hand, order a light and refreshing Caesar salad on a spinach wrap ($6.25). You can never have enough greens in your life, especially when all you see outside is brown snow. The salad has the perfect amount of tangy dressing, and the shards of Parmesan cheese give it a fun bite. The wrap is only an ornament nuzzled next to my bowl of ginger squash soup. The soup is thick with morsels of celery and clusters of squash meat. It is a melodious orange with swirls of ginger harmonizing, and every scoop is like the sun bursting in my mouth.
The Latte Caf? and Bistro has a diverse lunch menu featuring daily specials and tasty soups. It is open from 11 p.m. to 3 p.m. every day. The perfect spot for a lunch “quickie,” the Bistro gets a solo from Mick: “It’s only soup and sandwich, but I like it.”