Friday, May 2, 2008

Review: Ca Phe House

Sorry, I don't know how to do accent marks.

Ithaca, NY has so many interesting and affordable places to eat that I suspect the Roman goddess Abudantia hovers above it, doling out leases for inspired restaurateurs from her horn of plenty. In other words, for such a small town, it has some great restaurants.

That observation rings only more true now that Ca Phe House is on the scene. While they do serve the infamous Vietnamese coffee, Ca Phe house is not a false cognate for coffee house. Instead, it's an excellent place for Banh Mi, aka Vietnamese sandwiches.

Not only does Ithaca now have a Banh Mi shop; it has a Banh Mi shop that sources as many organic and local ingredients as possible. As one Cornell professor put it, "they're making their own local, organic mystery meat!"

My companion and I ordered the Special and the Mack. They were so good that they made us feel like we ourselves were special, and the Mac.

The Mac comes with a somewhat disorienting amount of differently textured meats.

This includes ham, sausage, pork loaf, and in case the pork loaf isn't enough for you, paté. Yet the sandwich is lightened considerably by shredded, zingy, pickled veggies and razor thin slices of raw jalepeno. The Mack is so named for the two fillets of canned mackerel slapped between halves of a baguette. Okay, so that's probably not local, but it's surprisingly good for a canned fish sandwich.

In addition to being great and featuring local ingredients, Ca Phe is also incredibly cheap. Sandwiches are six or seven bucks, but they could easily pass for eight dollar sandwiches.

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