Fri 4 Sep 2009
Yesterday, Metrocurean raised the question of whether Washington’s options are improving when it comes to niche markets that operate in the middle ground between corner markets and gourmet shops. She focused on newcomer Aroma Bakery and Market in her neighborhood and mentioned two others, Timor Bodega and Cornercopia.
As luck would have it, we’ve been checking out Cornercopia since it opened a few weeks ago. We’ve tried several of their made-to-order sandwiches, and we’ve followed owner Albert Oh on Twitter. What we’ve seen so far is definitely promising.
For lunch-goers, Cornercopia offers six different sandwiches made from Boar’s Head meats and served on breads from Firehook Bakery specifically selected by Oh to complement the flavors of the fillings. They also make fresh salads daily, and they received no small amount of attention when they announced that they would be carrying sushi from H Street’s Sticky Rice. When word gets out on Capitol Hill, expect lines of staffers hungry for something new for lunch.
Details on the current sandwich offerings, the market’s stock and a great selection of beverages after the jump.
Cornercopia is the kind of concept that most neighborhoods (read: ours) would kill for. It’s a refined corner market focused on selling quality products (including organics from labels like Muir Glen), fresh milk and eggs, handmade sandwiches and salads, locally-made breads…and a great selection of wine and beer. And it’s on the leading edge of the wave of development in Near Southeast, a homegrown business coming up in an area that is slated to see tons of growth over the next decade.
Stepping inside the freshly-painted gray storefront, the first impression is one of organization and attention to detail. A refrigerated case on the right-hand wall holds fresh juices, kombucha, salads and a minimal but attractive display of fruits and vegetables. It also features the day’s salads and sushi. Ahead is the deli case, with the various sandwiches spelled out on chalkboards behind it, and the checkout counter. And to your left you’ll find a small but well-edited selection of shelf-stable groceries. Whether you’re looking for spices, sauces or organic veggies, you can find them here at competitive prices.
Beyond the groceries, Cornercopia’s other attraction reveals itself in the form of a wall of wines from around the world and a refrigerated case stocked with beers that range from the local and familiar (Dogfish Head) to the imported and exotic (Duvel). Milk from Trickling Springs Creamery – in glass bottles, no less! – and gelato from Ciao Bella.
For my first taste of Cornercopia’s sandwich offerings, I tried the “Stadium,” a take on a classic club sandwich. Featuring peppered turkey breast, avocado, bacon, lettuce, tomato and Russian dressing on slices of Pullman white bread, this was a massive sandwich…maybe even a little too tall for most tastes. When I visited again, Oh asked what I thought of the sandwich (scoring points for remembering me). He agreed that the sandwich is a bit of an unwieldy stack and explained that he was using the Pullman loaf because regular sliced bread was becoming too soggy with all the wet ingredients. He thanked me for my feedback and assured me he’s still working on the combination. My second Cornercopia sandwich was the Dupont, roast beef on a sub roll with horseradish mayo and horseradish cheddar. It had a nice, spicy bite, and it was far more manageable than the first. Prices are in line with those of other specialty sandwich locations like Taylor Gourmet, running from six dollars and change to roughly $8.50.
Everything about Cornercopia seems to suggest an active and attentive ownership that is committed to making the store a destination in Near Southeast as the area continues to develop. Outdoor seating is in the works, as are weekend hours (currently they’re open from 9 AM to 10 PM weekdays). Oh has solicited suggestions from customers on what additional products they’d like to see…and then he’s followed up! He’s even asked for input on new sandwich combinations. We’re looking forward to watching the business – and its fan base – continue to grow.