When I think of a cafe, I envision a small display of homemade delicacies, coffee, and a quaint sitting area. Most of my experiences with cafes have been in the form of overly-commercialized Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts– and even in those- service, seating space, and quality products are hard to come by.
I don’t know about you, but I gravitate towards cafes for serenity and a chance to regather my thoughts. I enjoy the familiarity of the staff members, the first to last sip of a hot beverage on a chilly day, the low-key music, and the occasional treat as my trusty companion.
Recently, it appears as though the only thinking I am able to accomplish when inside, is how many lattes the staff member at the bank just ordered. As for the cafe staff members? Well, let’s just say someone needs to re-teach them the golden rule of customer service.
With America and the world becoming increasingly reliant upon technology and instant gratification, it seems as though a wedge has been created between these supposedly five-star companies and their customers.
Unfortunately, I’ve had to forfeit my light breakfast and hot beverage soiree at Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts due to the increase in careless staff members and decrease in quality of food. (and let’s be honest…the wild anxiety caffeine stirs up in me)
This disappointment with mainstream American “cafes” lead me to appreciate local establishments. A little over a year ago- Cloveberry– a new cafe in Sparta, NJ opened.
I would describe Cloveberry as a new world cafe with a staff who truly knows the meaning behind the word hospitality. Hidden on Main Street in Sparta, Cloveberry boasts a Victorian feel on the outside, with a Bohemian look on the inside.
Upon entering, the aroma of freshly baked goods along with coffee is enough for you to feel right at home. If you walk a little further in, you’re able to see a decent sized sitting area with nearly every seat filled with satisfied, repeat diners.
I have been to Cloveberry four times and every single time the line is nearly out the door. It just goes to show that service and food exists harmoniously here, something that is truly difficult to find these days.
The walls are covered with the menu and a selection of loose leaf teas. The desserts and pastries look and smell the part of a homemade good. Most importantly, the staff is ALWAYS greeting you with a smile and willing to go the extra mile.
For example, this past week when I dined at Cloveberry, the wait was around 10-20 minutes. I didn’t complain or give a look of disdain, but Dev, one of the owners, brought one of the outside tables inside for me. No wait = beyond a satisfied customer! At any other cafe that kind of service is nonexistent!
Onto the food…
I brought my boyfriend along with me in high hopes that he would fall in love with Cloveberry just as I had.
The menu contains an array of dishes ranging from soups to quiches to salads to sandwiches and any specials they currently have.
I chose the Honey Basil Grilled Cheese and a Maple Spice Latte. I highly recommend both.
Let me also say, on top of the staff being authentic, the food and drinks are too. The coffee is freshly brewed and most of their milks and creamers are organic. Their menu of hot beverages is about three pages long, so be sure to choose at least one and bring a friend along!
They also accommodate most diets, prepare everything on premises, host fundraisers/events/parties, and if you are looking for a lush evening, you can BYOB!
The grilled cheese was out of this world. It contained fontina, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and tomatoes on 7-grain bread. If you like savory meets sweet, your tastebuds will thank you. The cheese wasn’t overbearing and the honey was in proportion with the amount of basil used.
This dish also came with a side salad and some chips sprinkled with fresh parmesan. Both of these proved to surpass my standards for freshness and taste.
My boyfriend ended up choosing an Irish Mocha Latte and the Apricot Chutney Chicken Panini which also came with a side salad and chips sprinkled with fresh parmesan. The panini consisted of chicken breast, baby spinach, proscuitto, and apricot chutney. I took a generous bite out of his and was pleasantly surprised. I am not chutney’s biggest fan, but the blend of the spices with subtle hints of apricot reaffirmed my love for Cloveberry.
We opted for no dessert this time, as the combination of sugar and spice within each dish was enough to keep me satisfied for the rest of the day.
When the bill came, it was another welcomed surprise. Our usual dining bills come to $40 or more, but at Cloveberry we received 5-star service with 5-star food all for $25!
21 Main Street
Do you prefer local cafes or more commercialized ones? Are you an on-the-go type or a relax and kick back kind of person?
Peace, love, and support your local eateries!