Outdoor patio at the Cafe at the Cummer.

The Cafe at The Cummer

If you’ve been to the Cafe at the Cummer in the past, the experience has changed. With an expanded staff, new outdoor seating under a gorgeous giant oak and an updated menu, it’s no longer just a place you’d grab a coffee. It’s now much more.

Though they do still deliver on the coffee front, you have the option of sit-down dining rather than counter-ordering. Food is provided by Chef’s Garden. As the kitchen has a small foot-print, they prep as much as possible at Chef kitchens, then do the last minute cooking and preparation in the Cafe’s kitchen. Chef’s Garden caters Cummer events, hitting the mark whenever they are needed.

You don’t have to visit the museum to come to the Cafe, so it’s a popular lunch spot for folks who work in the area. For those visiting the Riverside Arts Market on Saturdays, it’s close enough to walk to for a classy brunch. (On the first Saturday of the month the museum is free, which is another benefit).

The naan bread special changes from day to day. It’s served like a flatbread, then topped with whatever the chef is inspired by. For lunch I happened to catch the Thai naan, packed with bold sweetness and Thai spice. During Tapas Tuesdays they offer ½ portions of their naan of the day. The strawberry brie and honey naan that I shared on Tapas Tuesdays would perfectly accompany a glass of white wine.

In the winter, soup’s just right for lunch, so if you’re in the area, I highly recommend giving their tomato soup a try. It has just the right amount of cream and is thickened with tomato. This gives it extra creaminess and cuts the acidity down just the right amount.

Their excellently executed salads are made even better by the vegetarian black bean quinoa patty, which you can add to any salad for just $4. Those that crave variety and love salads will want to go for the Trio, which gives you your choice of three of their most popular: the sweet, yet hearty, Napa cabbage slaw, the Southwest chicken salad, orzo salad, baby blue or house salad.

They even do dessert right, with a rich chocolate molten cake. If you’re a fan of darker chocolate, you’ll love this decadent dessert. For cool nights out on the deck on Tapas Tuesdays, it would be great with a bold red.

Tapas Tuesday has begun gathering a following at the Cafe from 5 pm to 7 pm. It coincides with Free Florida Blue Tuesdays which starts from 4 pm until the museum closes at 9 pm. The soft lighting, opportunity to taste wines, the tapas menu and live music makes for a different experience than daytime at the Cafe.

About Erin Thursby