Wine with your muffin? If that’s what you want….Take Five Café in Gastown will give it to you.

Take Five Café has now become the one-stop-shop for employees at local businesses. With their 10th location they bring a new wine and beer component to complement their locally sourced charcuterie and cheese plates, paninis, pastas, and antipasti.

Craft beer available by the bottle.

More than 35 wines available (many on tap), including Barolo Fontanafredda Serralunga D’alba, Piedmont, Italy 2007, sold for $20/glass (less than half of the average cost of $50 at other restaurants).

Guests have the choice of ordering wine by a 2oz or 8oz glass or in a flight. Staff will aide those interested in flights through a wine pairing, chosing three 2 oz wine taster flights ($15) to pair with your food selection.

A common pairing would be with a plate of five items from the antipasti / charcuterie / cheese menu for $12, that you can choose yourself or allow the Take Five team to apply their pairing skills. Stand outs for me were the Smoked Black Olives (I could eat them all day), the Queso Manchego from Spain and the Buffalo Salami with Black Peppercorn. There are also marinated veggies, salamis and prosciuttos, and Italian and Spanish cheeses are on the menu.

Since I was at the café for a media tasting party I tried many of the items on their menu. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they also offered salads with a myriad of veggies, healthy tasting, light dressings and vinaigrettes and complete with protein so that it could serve as a meal. We sampled the quinoa salad (shown below). The quinoa salad seemed to be a crowd pleaser. This small portion was a tease to a potentially tasty and healthy meal. It was tangy and with a great balance of quinoa to vegetables.

I found the Roasted Turkey Wrap to be a bit bland, not tasting the pesto or the Gruyere cheese strongly and barely noticing the fire roasted bell peppers. I did like the fact that there was a fair amount of meat in it though. I was confused by this dish though as on the menu it is served in a baguette rather than a wrap, a fairly significant alteration. Meat and bread rather than meat and wrap?

On the other hand, the Italian Sausage Panini was a little sparse on the meat side of things but loaded with taste. The sausages packed a punch and had the perfect amount of spice to give you a little fire and a lot of flavour.

I was sad to have missed their Roasted Lamb Panini with Caprano Cheese and Carmelized Onions as I heard from many that it was delicious. That said, I know what I’m ordering at my next visit.

On the sweet side of things, I tried the Lemon Bar and the S’mores Brownie, both of which were fantastic.

The Lemon Bar consists of a zesty lemon custard atop a homemade shortbread crust. The custard was the perfect combination of sweet and tart that would be a hit with anyone that is a fan of the type. It feels light, almost making you feel less quilty for indulging in one…or two.

The S’mores Brownie is something you eat knowing it’s not very good for your waistline. Rich and loaded with flavour this is a dessert worth the acknowledged guilt and deserving of the “guilty pleasure” title. Every bite of this brownie is fantastic, so much so that I’m not sure why every brownie isn’t made this way. Why have simple chocolate icing when you can have marshamallow spread? And why waste your time on nuts when you can have a graham cracker crust? Same layering technique as a nanaimo bar, but ten times better. They even toast the homemade marshmallow!

All desserts on the current menu are $2.75.

Andrew Zappavigna, Take Five’s Retail Operations Manager, expressed his appreciation for local Gastown restaurants, like Salt Tasting Room, who focus on refined food and a simple concept. He hopes that the new Gastown cafe will bring that same simplicity with style while incorporating the sometimes lost “coffee culture”. To him, like any coffee aficionado, drinking coffee should be an experience; all of the components need to be there: quality, atmosphere and service. The staff at Take Five in Gastown take pride in offering that with their open-concept seating to encourage conversation amongst guests, their large window for people watching and their carefully crafted hot beverages complete with (beginner) latté art.

Steve Punzo, Co-Owner of Take 5 Café, is from northern Italy and proudly shows his heritage through the café’s food and furnishings. After his family acquired the recently closed Italian ballroom, Astorino’s on Commercial, he decided to incorporate the refinished table bases and small tool drawers in to his design.

Take a good look and feel at the circular table under the large light fixture at the entrance. You can tell it’s heavy, but can you imagine that they rolled that 900lb cement table in to the café themselves?

To further reiterate their vision of “keeping it local”, the light fixture hanging above the table was crafted by local lighting artist Ian Marsh and is made of spun metal.

This is Take Five’s second location to offer food with wine pairings, but the company has plans to incorporate wine onto menus for future locations as they continue to grow. For more information on Take Five Cafe check out their website or pop in, they’re open seven days a week from 7:00am to 7:00pm, closing at 11:00pm on the weekends.

For more photos check out my Take Five set on Flickr.

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