A cultured and serene culinary experience


Jacob Greenia

Hannah Lyford, owner of The Traveled Cup Coffee House

Brisk Sunday mornings in October are meant for going to cafés with your significant other. Follow that up with a romantic walk in the city park near the ageless fountain and that developing cold is no longer on your mind because the warm hand of your lover you hold melts away any congestion. Or it could be the quiche you just ate in three minutes.

To get away from our endless reserves of homework, my girlfriend, Erica, and I chose to eat lunch at our go-to café, The Traveled Cup Coffee House on North Main Street in St. Albans. The Traveled Cup opened its doors in place of the old candy shop that once enthralled youngsters like myself.

The café, sandwiched between a Subway restaurant and City Hall, has retained much of the quaint charm of its exterior from the candy shoppe. Such a vibe pairs well with the scattered rays of the afternoon sunlight shifting on its windows.

Upon entering the café, we were greeted again by lightly playing instrumental music which ranges from world and classical to Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. The café also provides a well-cultured and serene space with Wi-Fi to hold meetings, do homework or relax for an afternoon.

I always struggle with making my selection of food at the counter. The food menu regularly includes chicken curry salad and various croissant sandwiches with ham or turkey, and sometimes includes a caprese sandwich. The latter pairs two hearty pieces of bread with a couple cool slices of tomato, a smooth and creamy mozzarella melt and fresh basil leaves to awaken your senses with an aromatic scent and taste, resembling pepper and mint.

On this particular Sunday, however, heaven came to me in a plastic to-go container. One slice of eggplant quiche with roasted red pepper remained, and it was mine. The quiche featured “everything but the kitchen sink,” according to the lady operating the register. Erica selected the café’s soup special, a variation of a chicken and kale soup, with a pumpkin spice latte to go with the theme of fall. We purchased all this for a reasonable $18.

Oddly, this was the first time I walked into this café and did not order myself a coffee or a chai latte. I bought a pomegranate Bai drink and Strawberry Chobani yogurt, which I could have purchased anywhere, but they went well with the quiche.

The quiche itself retained the fluffy texture of the eggs with bits of red pepper and eggplant interspersed throughout. The slight bitterness of the red pepper countered the rich creaminess of the eggplant, since eggplant tends to mimic whatever dish you pair it with. In this case, it was the eggs providing the smooth flavor.

Contrasting such smooth textures was the crust, which is my favorite part of any pie. Unlike a pizza or bread crust, the pie crust is thin and falls apart clumsily in flakes. The buttery wisps of pie crust are met with a creamy coalition of egg, eggplant, and enough of an earthy flavor from the nutmeg to add some depth to the dish.

Once Erica finished her hearty chicken and kale soup, she said that she always feels relaxed after a meal at The Traveled Cup. She cited the comfort and ambiance as big reasons why she is a frequent customer at the café.

With our meals finished off, it was time for dessert. For me, a simple lemon and chopped almond biscotti would do. The sweet frosting complemented the tang of lemon, while the almonds provided a nutty crunch to the crumbling biscuit. Erica’s choice of dessert was a large classic chocolate chunk cookie to top off her latest experience at the café.

Before we left The Traveled Cup to take photos in a colorful, windswept Taylor Park, Erica and I thanked the staff as we always do. As a picky eater, I am surprised that I have never been disappointed by any dish I have eaten at this little coffee outlet.

With their affordable variations of hot and cold beverages such as chai latte, hot chocolate, mocha frappes and smoothies and diverse selections of salads, soups and sandwiches, The Traveled Cup has been our ideal stop in downtown St. Albans.

According to owner Hannah Lyford, The Traveled Cup utilizes primarily locally-grown ingredients and products for their menu.

And if you’re lucky enough to stop by during an open mic night, featuring local musicians and artists, make sure to treat yourself to the diverse food and drink selection that won’t dry up your checking account.