Put It In Your Mouth: Crowsenberg’s Half & Half

Crowsenberg’s Half & Half caf퀌�, at 923 S.W. Oak St., has quietly fed its clientele quality meals and coffee for years and, with an inexpensive menu that yields simple, unique items, it’s worth checking out.

There are only a few places on the west side where you can enjoy a quiet breakfast on a Sunday afternoon, and Half & Half is one of them. I have eaten here a number of times and they never seem to be very busy. For the life of me I can’t figure out why this is – I always leave Half & Half feeling satisfied and surprised at how such a little place puts out such a variety of really good dishes.

In a small room painted with the soft tones of blue and green, one employee serves as barista, chef and waiter. On display just above a counter where various indie and small press magazines are available to read, hangs a clutter of local artwork. With only three tables and a few bar stools, Half & Half is not the best place to bring a group of people, but it is ideal for two or three.

All of the food at Half & Half – from deviled eggs to grilled cheese sandwiches – presents a comforting, smart, rustic simplicity that evokes a romanticized, motherly vision of kitchen-fresh childhood nostalgia. Eating at Half & Half is a lot like eating at your mom’s house. They even have moonpies and homemade Oreos!

The "Wake Up" menu includes donuts for less than a dollar and vegan pastries, like the pear ginger and the pumpkin coffee cake. These things are perfect to grab along with a cup of Stumptown coffee if you just want to snag something on the fly, especially if you are on your way to Powell’s (which is less than a block away). But if you’re planning to wake up a little slower, Half & Half also has a slew of really fantastic "Good Morning Sandwiches" that are served on very tasty toasted bread (it’s gotta be from Grand Central or something, it’s soooo good). Just like warmin’ up the old car, you have to warm up the body too. And the best way to do it is with the "Honda," which is a good, simple vegetarian sandwich with scrambled eggs, cheese and tomato, for only $3.25. Also, for those who don’t mind nibblin’ on the piggy, try the "Hummer." This sandwich comes with ham, avocado, tomato, cheese and onion, and it’s $5.25. They also have bagels, English muffins and granola.

Sometimes it seems like lunch has become too far removed from what it is really supposed to be. Originally, lunch was created to replenish you, so that you can go out there on the playground and get your ass kicked by the bully, jump off the swings further than your best friend and then look up some little girl’s skirt, huh? And the best way to get that kind of essential energy is from a good old American PBJ, right? Damn straight it is. And Half & Half has that, too. Not only can you get a standard PBJ, but you can also get a devilish "fluffernutter" with marshmallow fluff served on white bread. Amen.

Also, knowing that many vegans and vegetarians often feel stiffed by the absence of nice, acronymic sandwiches such as the age-old BLT, Half & Half has broken the barrier and brought to you a TLT: tempeh, lettuce, tomato, avocado and vegan mayo. So be happy, OK? Of course they have grilled cheese, too (ranging from "basic" to "decadent"), and they also have a daily soup, which, like everything else, is really good. So I strongly encourage you to eat here – no, I double-dog dare you!

Crowsenberg’s Half & Half
923 S.W. Oak St.
Mon-Fri 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sat-9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sun 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.