There’s no denying that Little City Gourmet has a lot of heart. The little café, which opened this April just over the City of Falls Church border into Arlington, has abundant charm.
An antique white buffet just inside the door holds condiments, silverware, and a few copies of the local newspaper. A chalkboard menu above a cheeky bright-red espresso machine details the various Illy-coffee drinks made here. A few little café tables, each topped with a potted plant, make up the dining room. Two big brown leather armchairs next to the café’s windows give sun-lovers a place to bask. There’s a wrap-around, paisley-print sofa that doubles as seating, situated beneath a menu of the day’s specials and an ever-changing entrée option known as the daily dinner.
The daily dinner – the idea is so quaint. Just like Mom’s kitchen at home, there’s but one dinner made a day, and one can enjoy a special delight when a favorite dish happens to make the menu. The full week’s lineup of dinners is listed on the Little City Gourmet website. Today is oven-roasted turkey breast; tomorrow is lemon-pesto salmon. There’s a takeaway option for the dinners, as well, surely a perk for commuters as the café is a few blocks from a Metro station, a highway, and a bike trail.
The café offers an everyday menu as well, crafted by owner and chef Rachelle Slotnick of the Northern Virginia catering company Northwest Fresh Catering. It’s a morning-to-night menu of European delights, from assorted pastries and the crêpe of the day to shareable tapas treats.
There are a few grab-and-go options, salads and sandwiches prepackaged and ready to eat. But four salads and five sandwiches are made to order starting at 11 each morning. The Goat Cheese Salad ($8.95) is, for a salad, unabashedly decadent. The goat cheese isn’t merely crumbled within the mixed greens, but served in three balls, each rolled in crushed, toasted macadamia nuts. The avocado half may be sliced for easy eating, but the buttery stuff is placed all together on the plate. There’s a mild champagne vinaigrette to pour over the leaves, served in a little silver cup within the shallow, rectangular dish. Dried cherries impart a tangy sweetness to the dish greater than the more subtle sweetness of the added corn.
The Prosciutto and Pear ($8.95) sandwich is ripe with gourmet ingredients as well, from the tall stack of sliced prosciutto to the ample spread of goat cheese. The thin slice of pear and peppery arugula add to a mélange of flavors and textures. The sandwich is made on half of a warm baguette, crispy and flaky on the outside and delightfully soft on the inside. Each sandwich is served with chips, fresh fruit, or one of the daily side dishes – an assortment of pasta salads and the like that can be perused at a small deli counter where orders are placed.
The lunch eats cost no more than $11. The appetizers and tapas selection ranges in price from the $5.95 dip trio of baba ganoush, tzatziki, and hummus to a gourmet cheese plate of assorted cheeses with crostini and crackers at $15.95. The Teriyaki Salmon Bites ($12.95) are shareably sliced, and each piece of the sweet glazed salmon is stuck with a tiny silver fork. But the portion is small for the price, and the flavor is not as robust as one might hope for a tapas dish. A spare drinks menu of a few craft beers and some wine options make an evening visit more tempting.
From pastry and coffee in the morning to drinks and gourmet snacks at night, Little City Gourmet offers a range of dishes for diners enticed by its charms.
Little City Gourmet is located at 2121 N. Westmoreland St., Arlington. For more information, call 571-335-4983 or visit littlecitygourmet.com. Restaurant hours are Monday – Wednesday: 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Thursday – Friday: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Saturday: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.