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Introducing Volunteer Park Cafe & Marketplace

Though it looks like they aren’t quite yet open for daily business, the Volunteer Park Cafe & Marketplace will open its doors Friday night for its “premier” dinner event. There’s information on VPCM’s site about signing up for the dinner. The menu makes us regret entirely our weekend travel plans.

* Smoked Trout Tartlettes
Caramelized onion, triple cream Brie, shaved apple salad
2005 Yakima Valley Chardonnay
* Lamb Pops
Ginger cherry compote
2003 Yakima Valley Merlot
* Braised Oxtail and Creamy Polenta
Watercress salad, red wine reduction
2001 Cabernet Sauvignon
* Chèvre Cheese Cake
Drunken poached pears
Mystery wine!

VPCM is being readied in the former home of Cafe Europa whose demise we noted here. Volunteer’s Web site promises a breakfast and lunch service coming soon and take-out and wine available for dinner. There are also plans for monthly wine dinners. Sounds good to us.

The good people at VPCM also note they’ll be closed on Mondays. If we can make one small request, can somebody consider closing on a Wednesday or maybe a Tuesday? Easy for us, to ask, we know but just think about it, ok?


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14 years ago


14 years ago

Unfortunately, the wine dinner was a bust. The menu was overly ambitious for the space, the owners were exhausted from the prior days events (and the unexpected “snow day” which brought it all the at home Mommies and their kids) plus I think the “service staff” were relatives because they showed all the training of, well, someone’s Aunt Mary. I hope the cafe delivers on the simpler day job of a breakfast and lunch joint. The neighborhood needs an alternative. We can’t eat at Vios every day.

14 years ago

I’m disappointed with this place. We’ve been twice now and the first time there were a few kinks (the girl on the register wasn’t trained, the cafe’ was full of smoke from the panini grill) but we had a pretty good experience regardless. The food, which was delivered to our table, was great.

This time, it was more frustrating than anything else. First, the cashier was too out of it to get our order correct. Then we sat down and waited for our food. We thought it would be delivered to our table like last time. Then, I noticed some people picking up their food at the counter, while others received their food at their table. I thought that was odd and then noticed the couple who had been behind us in line picking up their paninis at the counter. So we approached the counter to find our food sitting there, unclaimed. The guy behind the counter offered no apology but said, “Yeah, that’s probably yours. It didn’t have a name.” Ok, we weren’t aware that we were supposed to give a name. As we observed the food service in the cafe’ it seemed like many other customers were confused too. I only saw one person get called up to the counter to get her food by name. Other people kind of wandered over to check if the food sitting there belonged to them, while one employee stalked through the space with a plate in his hand calling out, “Quiche! Quiche!” Still others just seemed to have their food delivered to them wordlessly.

So what is the system here? And what if we hadn’t come up to the counter? Was the guy planning to do anything with this no-name food that had just been sitting there? The whole thing was an exercise in frustration, which left us unable to enjoy the somewhat cool sandwiches.

The owners need to put a system in place and make sure that the staff uniformly follow it. This place, while it has so much potential, is just a mess right now.