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Updated March 2018 128 West State Street Café is one of those elegant, little, post-modern eateries that seem to pop-up effortlessly in places like Park Slope or Hoboken or Jersey City, but until recently have eluded Trenton. Located in a beautifully restored, tiny, basement-storefront across from the state Capitol, 128 Café serves freshly-made espresso drinks, and a limited menu of impeccably prepared breakfast and lunch foods. It’s open for breakfast and lunch, from 7 AM to 4 PM, targeting the downtown and statehouse crowd. It’s actually one of my favorite places in town: I make a point of stopping in whenever I have business near the Capitol. The cafe also does a significant catering business. Call them for prices and details.
Currently, along with Starbucks and the East Front Street Cafe, the Cafe is one of only three places downtown to get espresso drinks (espresso, cappuccino, latte), and here they’re made using Small World coffee. For breakfast you can get a selection of pastries with your coffee, or oatmeal, yogurt, breakfast sandwiches and (as a gluten free option), an egg frittata served without bread.
The lunch menu provides a modest selection of elegant sandwiches (including two vegetarian options, and a home-made “sushi-grade” tuna salad). You can also order beef chili or the “soup of the day”, plus salads, and a “flat bread pizza”.
What is so striking about the restaurant is how well it’s conceived. My first experience was to take-out a lovely chicken salad sandwich. The chicken salad was home-made, quite meaty, with minimal mayonnaise. The tomatoes were actually ripe (no mean feat in December), and the slice of romaine lettuce was crisp and fresh. My lunch came beautifully boxed with a wedge of a top-quality garlic-dill pickle (I love a good pickle), along with with nice-quality plastic utensils and napkin. There were actually two, good-quality dinner napkins in the box: one to use while eating, and the other to clean up when finished. It’s something that struck me as incredibly thoughtful. Prices are reasonable for the quality, but a meal will cost you a dollar or two more than at most other Trenton sandwich shops.
Visiting the website, you discover that the proprietors of the cafe are Charlie Yeh and his wife Sharon. Charlie is the proprietor of Sumo Sushi in Pennington (as well as Viva Gelato), and the long-time chef for “Social Sushi” at Trenton Social. So the attention to detail all of a sudden made sense (as did the “sushi-grade” tuna being used in the home-made tuna salad). It’s great to see another, smart restaurateur making a bet on Trenton.