The Paddington Bear panini ($7): Brie cheese, thin slices of green apple and sweet orange marmalade, pressed together within the jaws of a hot panini grill until the cheese starts melting and oozing.
Served with a small side of greens tossed a balsamic vinegar dressing that inevitably soaks into the crusty bread, just a little bit. Inexplicably, the balsamic only improves what was already a great sandwich — named after a very cuddly little bear. (Of course I ordered it because of the Paddington reference.)
For those not phased by cuddly, storybook bears, the Flying Saucer Cafe has a pretty big, and pretty legitimate, list of panini and sandwich-type options — in addition to the usual coffee shop suspects, e.g. hot and cold coffee and tea beverages of varying degrees of complexity.
The common denominator: All pretty cheap. A banana, marmalade and Nutella panini will only set you back $4; same with the house BLT sandwich, which seems to be a favorite, judging by the smells of cooking bacon that wafted my way periodically. Even a bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese, etc., was less than $6 — that’d be impossible to find in the city. (Hmm…)
I stumbled upon the Flying Saucer Cafe doing a little on-the-ground recon for an article I’m writing. (It’s hard to miss the funkdafied, hand-painted, saucer-cup-in-the-sky sign.)
Inside, it’s whimsical and spacious, with plenty of reasons settle in and hang out for a while: old, overstuffed couches; mismatched tables and chairs of all sizes; free; plus, a fantastic back patio. It has that comfortable feel of a general gathering point. There’s a jam session up front, with guitars and not-bad singing; open laptops everywhere; small groups titter and chatter, others lean their heads in, conspiring.
I left wishing for a place like this near my home. Someplace to escape to when I get apartment-claustrophobic and need a change of scenery. Sometimes, I would rather read, or work, or think, or daydream, among the company of strangers.