(Photo credit: James P. McCoy / The Buffalo News)
(This was originally published in The Buffalo News on 6/18/18)
It wouldn’t be hard to spend a morning that turns into an afternoon and even spills into an evening at the Clarence Center Coffee Co. & Cafe.
There is so much to try – and do – at this Clarence mainstay. Welcoming tiki torches and fresh flowers greet you on the way into the brick cafe where two chalkboard signs advertise hours and events in bubbly letters.
Open Mic Night is every Tuesday (on the patio in warmer weather), Wine Night every Wednesday and Psychic Night the last Wednesday of each month. Live music is at the cafe, too, sometimes several times a week.
Inside, there’s a relaxed, bohemian feel. Eclectic artwork, mirrors and tapestries with cultural nods to several parts of the world, cover the mostly red walls. Twinkle lights and trinkets add ambiance and a coziness to the darker room.
The goal, according to the website, is to “meet individuals’ needs that are emotional to ‘om’ (the openness of the universe),” which makes sense as you look around. Although, on this hot summer day, nobody is sitting inside.
On the covered, wraparound porch, several people sit alone, quietly working on laptops or reading books. The patio has more liveliness, with a group of women sitting at a table, animatedly talking and laughing. A man brings out two steaming cups of coffee to a woman, perhaps their bottomless coffee ($3) if they’ll be there a while.
Breakfast and lunch fill several menu pages. The food is healthy and the portions are generous. Appetizers, like the apple and brie crostini with balsamic ($9.29) offer something aside from a sandwich, salad or soup. But if you want one of those three food categories, the choices are plentiful.
Deli sandwiches — ham, turkey, roast beef, tuna, egg salad, avocado hummus – are served with a pickle and cost between $6.29-$9.29. Sides include chips ($1), salad ($4.29), tortilla chips and mango salsa ($4.29 small, $6.29 large), fresh fruit ($2.99) and quinoa of the day ($4.29).
Choose from ten different salads, ranging in price from $9.29 to $12.29. Wraps ($10.29) are made with sun-dried tomato, whole grain or jalapeño cheddar wraps. The California Dreamin’ wrap has roasted turkey, avocado, cilantro, mixed greens, roasted red peppers, red onion, tomatoes and balsamic. When the food comes out, the hearty portions and abundant toppings do not disappoint.
Teas, beers, wines, slushies, wine slushies, sodas, smoothies and milkshakes add to the large drink menu. Coffee and espresso drinks come in all kinds of forms.
“Pretty much anything you desire, I can make it,” the barista said, after passing over a long list of flavored syrups. Espresso lattes can be ordered hot, on the rocks or frozen. After pondering creating a new latte, I tried a frozen Nutty Irishman with espresso, hazelnut and Irish syrups, steamed milk ($4.50). It’s nutty, minty and tastes like a coffee milkshake.
My coffee date ordered an iced French Toast latte ($4.50) off the specials board. It had maple and brown sugar cinnamon syrups, espresso, steamed milk and we both made the same verdict: cinnamon French toast and your morning coffee, mixed together in a cup, in the best way.
The café puts you in a meditative state of mind where time seems to slow down. Perhaps it’s the calm, Clarence street shaded by trees, the people, the stomach full of balsamic dressing and goat cheese, or maybe it’s just the atmosphere creating “om.”
Clarence Center Coffee Co.
9475 Clarence Center Road, Clarence Center
Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday and Friday. 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Vegan and gluten-free: Yes, many options.
Parking: Full lot on the side.