A hearty, home-style meal at Dream Cafe

Nestled on Main Street in Johnson is an unimposing white building with a dark blue sign hanging out front, painted with puffy white clouds and the name of the establishment: The Dream Café. Opened earlier this year, The Dream Café offers a variety of home-style breakfast food, lunch food, tea, coffee and baked goods in a comfortable and casual café setting reminiscent of old fashioned Vermont homes.

I entered the café through the swinging screen door on the front porch where metal chairs and tables were set up as a seating option. I was immediately struck with the feeling that I was walking into someone’s private home. The building used to be just that, and the original layout of small, cozy, sectioned off rooms remains.

In the main seating area, which I assumed used to be the living room or parlor of the house, there were a variety of wooden chairs and tables, as well as old squishy armchairs and couches draped with blankets and covered with throw pillow. A collection of potted trees and plush house plants were set up around the room and tucked into corners, while an old stand-up piano rested against one wall, inviting customers to sit and play. A vacant brick fireplace sat along one wall with a communal book shelf full of books to swap or borrow next to it. Large windows invited in natural light and gave a view of Main Street, Johnson.

A collection of art pieces, including paintings and photographs from local artists, adorned the walls. I walked through the narrow hallway, past a staircase with a large wooden banister and a small shelf covered with a variety local business cards. The old wooden floorboards creaked underneath my feet and soft, acoustic guitar music could be heard playing throughout the café.

Reaching the counter, which held the register and also served as seating area for customers, I saw that the chalkboard menu on the wall behind the counter listed different sandwiches, wraps, paninis, hot and iced coffee beverages, dozens of different teas and breakfast foods such as smoothies and French toast.
In a glass case running along the front of the counter was a smorgasbord of baked goods including pies, pastries, cake, muffins, cookies and croissants. There were also some gluten-free baked goods, and a number of the meals on the menu were vegetarian friendly, including a veggie wrap, a caprese panini and a sauerkraut and seitan panini.

I decided to order a breakfast panini that contained eggs and Vermont cheddar cheese, and asked for a slice of tomato to be added. Along with the panini, I ordered a spinach feta croissant, an iced chai latte and a square slice of blueberry crumb cake.

I settled down on a curved cushioned window seat with a knee-high spacious wooden table in front of me. My iced chai latte arrived first, delivered by the polite and friendly employee who had taken my order at the register. The latte was served in a tall glass with only a small amount of ice, which I prefer so that the drink does not get watered down. It had a very strong chai flavor with an added splash of cream and was refreshing and flavorful. However, it did not come sweetened at all so I added my own simple syrup at the sugar and cream station, and the added sweetness offset the bitter chai deliciously.

The spinach feta croissant arrived second. It was piping hot and slightly toasted on the outside, having been pressed between the panini grill briefly. Lastly, the panini breakfast sandwich arrived sliced in half and made with thick and hearty bread, grilled to a crunchy golden brown. It contained a thick layer of egg, cooked in an omelet style, with a melted layer of gooey cheddar cheese on either side of the bread and two thin slices of tomato. Alongside the panini rested two large black raspberries, contrasting well with the sandwich and making the dish more visually pleasing.

The spinach feta croissant was absolutely delicious. Flaky and warm croissant crust encased a gooey and hearty filling of soft baked spinach with the perfect balance of tangy feta cheese throughout.
After having some bites of the spinach feta croissant as an appetizer, I dug into my hearty breakfast sandwich. The thick panini bread was very rustic and chewy, but with a good balance of crunch. The egg was not my favorite consistency, being very similar to a dense omelet, but the gooey cheddar cheese offset the egg flavor well. The tomato may have been a mistake as it cooled down the egg and cheese somewhat and made the sandwich a little drippy when I bit into it. But the black raspberries were good palate-cleansers between bites of panini.

The blueberry crumb cake was full of small blueberries and topped with a generous amount of crumbly crust. It was served cold and was dense and somewhat dry, but a good balance of not too chewy and not too crumbly. While it had a good texture and nice blueberry flavor, I think I would have tasted better if it had been heated up. The variety of flavors throughout my meal complimented each other well, and I felt full and satisfied afterwards. The Dream Café offers meals that are perfect to eat before a comfy afternoon catnap.

Overall, The Dream Café offers yummy and comforting food in a uniquely decorated, comfortable and casual setting. It offers many seating options, including tables to sit at and work, comfy couches and arm chairs to lounge in, and patio chairs and tables out on the porch. While I thought the food was somewhat expensive and the menu should have contained a wider variety of options, the portions were a good size and the food was tasty and filling. The Dream Café is a lovely little café in which to hang out with friends for lunch, meet for interviews or relax on a quiet afternoon studying or reading while enjoying some hearty home-style food and baked goods.