Most Elegant Brown Bag Lunch

Caffe 817

A civilized lunch can do wonders for even the worst day in cubicleland. How bad can life be when your lips are slicked with extra-virgin olive oil as you tuck into a salad of creamy cannellini beans, fried capers, and firm chunks of albacore? The lunch menu at Caffe 817 delivers the flavors of Italy on an American schedule. Call by 11 a.m. and your lunch will be packed up and ready to go by the time you arrive. The sandwiches here are well conceived. French ham with Fontina cheese, cornichons (wee French pickles), and arugula goes down fast, and the sandwich of roasted eggplant with feta, spinach, and sundried tomatoes bursts with flavor. Eleven dollars and change gets you a sandwich like that, plus greens, San Pellegrino (or soda of your choice), and a biscotto or madeleine. The salad lunches also come with a drink and dessert, plus a piece of Acme levain toast. The roast beef is from Niman Ranch and the greens are organic. A bit of integrity at lunch can go a long way. Who knew a brown bag could elevate your mood?

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