A few months ago, a new neighborhood eatery opened its doors on the 17th street corridor of Dupont. We stopped by for dinner the other weeknight, not looking for a great culinary experience, but something simple to satisfy our hunger. And we came to the right place. Seventeeth Street Cafe is decidedly limited in its menu of salads, soups and sandwiches, but focused and thoughtful.
The menu has all the trite basics from hummus, to quesadillas to burgers. But somehow they make it worth coming back. Perhaps it's for the level of care put into the simple food and the reasonable prices. I guess I'd describe it as earnest and, like Avis, they try hard(er). They're trying. I'm not sure if they're there yet, but I like the effort. The service is very friendly, while the decor fumbles towards hip and spare (unfortunately, the industrial/office building blue carpet on the second (lounge) floor betrays this aim).
Anyhoo, I had the very yummy grilled cheese! (They have grilled cheese!) And it was done very well and very honestly. The Swiss on sourdough was lovely dipped in a perfect tomato bisque. I think the soup was made with chicken stock (?) along with a bit of cream which made it very satisfying and substantial. My dinner companion had the walnut and cranberry salad which was equally well done and was only "$6 1/2"--cutely written on the menu. The hummus and flatbread appetizer didn't taste the least bit like the packaged stuff that you tend get at other places (say, around the corner).
Seventeenth Street Cafe is like that nerd we knew (or were) in highschool: a little awkward, yearning for cool, kinda smart, and most likely will be very popular at the fifth year reunion.