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Serendipity to be discovered

By Staff | Mar 4, 2011

For years, one of my favorite spots on West German Street was the stuffy, dusty old antiques store. Quirky, multi-chambered and stuffed with inventory, it nearly eclipsed what the space had once been: a general store. The old counter was there, and the old wood floors and tin ceiling, but in front of them were everything from rusty tools to grandma’s silk dress.

I happened in there one day, just after the proprietor had received what was left from an estate sale, from a woman who had clearly been affluent, cultured and Jewish. There were fur wraps, elegant clothes and Judaica, including something I had to have. A framed pen-and-ink drawing, it depicted a Torah scribe at work, writing the sacred scroll. Only certain rabbis have the education to undertake this task. Every letter is like a human being and the Torah is regarded as a living presence. Huge respect for it is required.

The framed drawing was inked not on typical drawing paper, but on old newspaper, printed in Hebrew – the Yiddish Daily Forward, a paper my great-grandfather read every day of his life. The piece cost less than $30 and today lives in my house.

So when the old antiques store went away, I was sad. There is little more lovely in life than serendipity, and a store full of oddities is a great place to discover that.

But today, the architecture of the old space is more easily appreciated, in its employment as Mellow Moods.

The original counter is where one places an order. The menu trends towards light fare: wraps and bagels, sandwiches and soups. Vegetarians, and even vegans, will find plenty of choices that fall within their dietary parameters, but the combinations are interesting enough for omnivores.

Fresh juice blends include Morning Dew – cucumber, lemon, mint and agave – and Island Joy – orange, pineapple, mango and banana. A mix called Garden Elixir includes optional hot sauce.

There are also all sorts of fruit smoothies, some with yogurt, soymilk and even peanut butter, with additional supplements that include ginseng and ginko, as well as aloe vera, bee pollen, hemp protein and a type of algae called Spirulina. A separate sheet indicates the health benefits associated with these.

Shots and shooters include wheatgrass juice, as well as a mixture that is said to soothe sore throats, one concocted for upset stomachs and another that invites a good night’s sleep.

The menu also claims the restaurant to use 85 percent organic, all-local produce, as well as 100 percent wind power. All its products, it claims, are compostable. The semi-shabby furnishings, with slightly broken chairs at the tables and mismatched mugs for the tea and coffee, give credence to the claims by eschewing superficial style in favor of useful substance.

I chose a Storm Bagel, which involved a blueberry bagel that enclosed almond butter, chevre, apples, walnuts and honey. It was sticky, but delicious. About the closest the restaurant gets to serving animal proteins is in the eggs it uses in breakfast sandwiches and egg salad, as well as the cheese that goes into many of its selections. Those who must have food with a face can choose the tuna melt.

There are daily soups, served with hot bread, as well as hot sandwiches that come with fruit or vegetable quinoa. There is also a selection of crepes.

Clearly, the restaurant is an outpost for university students, who make themselves at home by reaching behind the counter for a jar of honey or some extra napkins, and doing crossword puzzles while refilling their coffee mugs, using an honor system that includes a jar for payments.

A big basket of oversize Legos means there’s stuff for kids to do while waiting on the PB&J or grilled cheese that are part of the kids’ menu. An antique hanging scale behind the counter attests to the history of the place as both a general store and a home for antiques. Art on the walls is for sale. Music over the sound system includes everything from jazz to Janis Joplin.

There is probably serendipity to be discovered at Mellow Moods. The vibe is good.