Lunchtime Diaries: Metropolitan Bakery opens cafe in Rittenhouse

A top-crust pot pie at the new Metropolitan Cafe. | Photo from Metropolitan CafeWhile lunchtime at the Grid offices typically means a trip to Reading Terminal or a visit to one of our favorite Chinatown haunts, yesterday we took our appetites all the way to Rittenhouse Square. Our destination: the new Metropolitan Café that opened on Monday.

A chance to nosh on Metropolitan baked goods would’ve been enough of a draw, but the promise of locally sourced foods convinced us the walk was more than worthwhile.

“We decided to open a café partially because for 20 years people have been asking for us to sit down,” says Wendy Smith Born, who opened Metropolitan Bakery with James Barrett in 1993. Barrett is also the chef at the café. “But also … we felt like this was the right next step in our evolution. We’re always looking for a new way to incorporate food in the region. The café gives more of an extension there.”

While Born acknowledges that February isn’t the best time to be sourcing locally, you can expect to see regional cheeses (like Cherry Grove’s Buttercup Brie and Clover Creek’s Royer Mountain), root vegetables and greenhouse-raised greens on the menu. Sources include Highland Orchards (West Chester, Pa.), Lancaster Farm Fresh (Lancaster County), Greensgrow Farms (Kensington) and Murray’s Chicken (Lancaster County). Spelt for bread comes from Small Valley Milling in Lancaster. The herbs though are the most local, grown in the café on the living wall designed by Philly’s own Shift_Design.

In addition to salads (both the grain-centric and leafy varieties) and sandwiches, there are a few more belly-warming dishes, like mushroom pot pie and macaroni and cheese also on the menu. And of course there are Metropolitan’s usual drool-worthy baked goods crowding the front cases, tempting you to skip straight to dessert. (Born is working to get another local favorite, Little Baby’s Ice Cream, in the café.) Come springtime, Born expects the Rittenhouse farmers market to provide further menu inspiration. “That’s where it really becomes fun. You can go out there, find what you want on a Saturday and then cook with it all the next week.”

Metropolitan Café, 264 S. 19th St., Hours: Tues.-Fri., 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 8 a.m.-6 p.m.