Lamplighter Offers Unique Food, Good Coffee, Hipsters
The block Lamplighter is on is filled mostly with abandoned houses. As busy as the place was this Saturday, that didn’t seem to be stopping anyone.
As I approached the cafe for the first time, I hoped there was indoor seating. The four or so haphazard tables and chairs outside had already been dragged into the sun and filled with a large party. Inside, the six tables in the dining area were already full.
A 1960’s teal-colored boat of a car parked out front completed the gas-station-turned-hipster-paradise feel. The entire time I was there, there was a steady flow of customers, with about 6 people waiting in line at any given time. To Lamplighter’s credit, they were moving at a good pace, even though our food took about 30 minutes to come out each time. A family of 4 left in mid-order when they were told there was a bit of a wait in the kitchen.
At Lamplighter you order from the counter and they bring your food to you. I snagged two of the three counter seats in the front window next to the register. They were a perfect place to watch the city go by.
Despite the server arguing with me about my drink order (I’ve been a barista since I was 13, thank you), my extra-foam latte came out perfectly, though the ill-fitting plastic saucer that came with my ceramic mug was off-putting. The barista redeemed herself by coming over later to ask how I liked it and then we had a nice chat about coffee. They sell 8 oz to 20 oz cup sizes. My 12 oz latte was $2.75.
There was so much on the menu that looked good. I ordered the Patterson Panini ($7): Avocado, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, and hummus on focaccia. It came with a choice of pasta, fruit, cucumber or potato salad. I was worried about the fruit being out of season, but the large bowls of salads on display convinced me. The fruit was sprinkled with poppy seeds, giving it a nice texture and bite. Their bread is made by a local bakery down the road and was delightfully fluffy. The hummus and all the soft veggies in my sandwich made it a little mushy but it was very flavorful.
My friend had the egg, tomato and cheddar sandwich, with a special request for it on a bagel. For only $4, it was a deal, and came nicely garnished with slices of oranges and apples. She also ordered the ginger snap ($2, other sizes available), which was iced tea mixed with ginger-flavored syrup. She didn’t like the way it burned going down and didn’t finish it.
What looked like daily specials were hand-written on construction paper and taped to the wall next to the register, but with the crowds, and the small size of the signs, I didn’t notice them until after I ordered. This was a shame, because I would have enjoyed any of them. The Muna Module was an avocado sandwich with soy and egg on a croissant with a side for $8. A siriacha/maple glazed vegetarian sausage with egg and cheddar was only $5.75. The 5-minute mac & cheese was $4. The quiches of the day included sharp cheddar+bacon+apple and ham+pear+swiss for $5.25. The soup of the day was creamy tomato dill at $4.
In addition to the café, Lamplighter also has a co-op for roasting and ordering beans, which are available for delivery. They’d benefit from adding more outdoor tables as the weather warms up and speeding up the kitchen.
Lamplighter Roasting Company
South Addison St.
Monday – Friday 6am – 7pm
Saturday and Sunday 7am – 7pm
Holly Gordon is the Lifestyle section editor and a board member of GayRVA. An advocate for GLBT equality and lover of all things RVA, she works in non-profit and is a freelance writer.
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