14 June 2009
The first time we tried to go to Happy Gillis Cafe and Hangout in Columbus Park, it was "Sad to be Closed," according to the sign. But today we went and they were "Happy to be Open" - I was happy, too.
We placed our order with the Happy Soupmaker himself - Todd Schulte, whose daughter is the artist behind the inviting spatula-wielding face that greets you on the business card and sign. Schulte answered all our questions ("What's a bialy?") thoroughly and eagerly. We wanted to know what was the soup of the day and did he happen to know if it was vegetarian? He said he did know because he'd made it and it was not only vegetarian, it was vegan. It was also, we soon found out, delicious.
To go along with our South Indian Tomato Lentil soup with Almonds and Thai Basil, we had sandwiches - a Caprese on Ciabatta and a Smoked Salmon with asparagus, egg, pea shoots, and green goddess dressing, on a bialy. And to drink - a mimosa (that came with a mermaid on the side, literally) and a bloody mary (that came with a Slim Jim on the side which neither of us ate). Sandwich, soup, and drink were all equally divine. Every bite of these classic flavor combinations was superb.
We didn't want the deliciousness to end, so we ordered dessert, suspecting that anything we might order at this Cafe and Hangout would be good. We were right. Todd's wife Tracy wanted to know which one we liked best. But that was an impossible decision: The Best Brownie Ever and The Breadiest Cookie Ever were a neck and neck tie all the way to the last bite.
I could have stayed at Happy Gillis and hung out (as the name suggests) for much longer than we did, but we scooted out shortly after they began closing and pulling in the thousand-and-one-spoons railing that marks the edge of their lovely sidewalk seating. We said good bye to the charming squirrel s&p shakers, the bubblegum pink bathrooms, the orange couch, the wall of abandoned artwork of the week, and the proud proprietors. And we vowed to come back soon for more incredible food.