Jennifer Klahr spent a lot of time in the restaurant biz, learning it from the ground up, and working for over a decade with Spanky's in Pooler.
All that time discovering the right dishes for a particular venue, where to find the best coffee, and best of all, learning the greatest sources for fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies has paid off in spades. Of course, it helps if you live near from the 700-acre Ottawa Farm.
Jennifer got to know Pete Waller and his family and learned of their penchant for “being green” way before it became a popular trend. She recognizes when the season is just right for making her blueberry pie or getting the perfect squash for her smoked veggie sandwiches.
She pays attention to the Bamboo Farm and its love-call to strawberry fans each spring and makes sure to load up with the freshest red berries for her desserts, salads and fruit-infused drinks. She call tell you all about the farmer’s market too, and where to find those tender asparagus spears and the crispest pears for her salads.
District Café and Eatery, on the corner of Broughton and Abercorn, has been around since April 2013, taking over this cherry piece of property from the Caraway Café upon its demise. It’s pretty much a family-run establishment with a whole passel of members who lend their special talents to what is becoming a much-loved downtown venue.
It wasn’t easy to mold the menu around a place where you can only bake, roast and slow-cook because it’s an old building with limited space and equipment—but , oh, what they’ve done with it!
Jennifer and he hubby Steve Klahr, a retired graphic designer, have created a pleasant, sunny café using the original Spanish-style tiled floor, toasty brickwork, blue-grey and mustard walls, and a touch of funky artwork and signage that makes you smile (“Warning: Do not feed the Zombies!”).
The long, homey wooden table running down the middle of the room, as well as the bar top, were created from reclaimed wood by Sean Carter Woodworks, and the big green and blue “milk jug” candleholders, as well as the impeccably friendly servers, make you wanna come in a stay a while.
Damn the parking, find a niche, and slip on in! The salads alone will amaze you, and get’em while the gettin’s good because each month sees new and mouthwatering additions to the menu that changes according to the season—if you missed another chance at that favorite spring salad or winter soup you’ll just have to dive into new gustatory wonders the next month.
There are plenty of classics, like the Pimento Cheese Press or the delicious West Coast Club with its fresh basil aioli, though, so nobody’s complaining too loudly!
I have a deep love of a good salad, and the current “Winter Bleus” is tops on my list: witness the huge bowl, filled to the brim with luscious, fresh greenery and smothered in layers of crumbled blue cheese, chopped pecans, perfectly ripe chunks of pear and a generous helping of some fine, slightly chewy, tasty bacon—and I don’t mean “bacon bits” either!
It warms my heart to taste this wonderful salad that I only slightly drench in the house-made kiwi-Champagne dressing.
The sandwiches here are inventive and delicious: a crusty garlic panini stuffed with homemade mac n’ cheese and topped with tender, smoky BBQ pork (thanks to Jen’s son, Chef Aaron Pitts), or the tantalizing asparagus panini with such a divine symphony of flavors even a devoted carnivore wouldn’t miss the meat.
I make soups so much at home that I rarely order them when dining out, but I’m so glad I’ve sampled the wares here. My food buddy Falko loved his creamy cauliflower bowl (yes, I had to taste it—hey, part of the job, folks!) and I wished I’d ordered a bigger bowl of the Tuxedo Chicken soup with its hearty broth, tender jumble of beans and plenty of juicy chicken. December’s delights included oyster stew, Beef Burgundy and a nice, thick split pea to warm your insides.
Scouting among local coffee vendors and taste-testing to find just the right blends, Jennifer has chosen James Spano’s Cup to Cup Coffee Roasters, known for their small-batch array of global choices, and I have to say, they pair perfectly with those baked goods or a golden panini!
The staff here are as friendly and knowledgeable as can be, and any one of them can tell you all about the monthly specials—if you have any questions, just look for Jennifer, always busy in the kitchen, or making sure the café florals and greenery out by the sidewalk tables are just as lovely and inviting as the her veggie specials—always in her apron, with a warm smile and a look of genuine pleasure to see you back again.