Guest Nibble scribe Elysian McNiff hits Sherman Market in her Restaurant Round-up Series—plus special Fluff-themed menu items for this weekend!

I had to make a big decision in Sherman Cafe the other day: which homemade soda to select? Ultimately, I ordered a cantaloupe-mint soda, although strawberry-rhubarb and blueberry-lavender were close contenders!  It was like sticking a straw into a semi-frozen cantaloupe and sipping up the juicy and sweet, but not too sweet, nectar of the melon while getting hit with bursts of mint. The cantaloupe and mint didn’t compete for my attention, but partnered amicably for a cool and refreshing drink.

In-house made goods like the homemade soda is what Sherman Cafe (257 Washington Street) is all about. That, and local fresh produce used in ingenious ways.  Karyn Coughlin and Ben Dryer opened the Cafe in 2004, wanting to create a welcoming neighborhood spot. Since then, Karyn and Ben have cultivated a sense of community and developed a menu offering up some of the best locavore (food grown or made locally) fare around. The menu chalkboard on the wall tells the story of Sherman. It boasts creative sandwiches, salads and brunch items that are all made from local and fresh products. It also offers news about their produce and vendors. A recent announcement tells customers that the haying fields of Livestock Farm in Rochester, Vermont were flooded by Irene (you can make donations at Sherman Market, around the corner).

I go to Sherman pretty often to get my daily morning dose of caffeine (light roast from Rao’s coffee based in Amherst, MA) or mid-day tea (check out the options from Somerville-based MEM Tea Imports). And when I have a sugar craving, which feels like every minute of the day, I nibble on one of the sweet baked goods: homemade English muffins, strawberry scones, vegan mocha cupcakes, morning glory muffins—the list goes on. With the exception of bread, all these confections are made in house.

That day, I overwhelmed. What to pair with my cantaloupe soda? Do I order the chilled cucumber and dill yogurt soup? Or, get the popular pressed Gruyere sandwich served with caramelized onions, spinach, mustard on Clear Flour (Brookline based) sourdough bread? I was craving a veggie medley so I opted for the Pineland Farms Swiss cheese (Maine) sandwich with zesty, pickled, local veggies (zucchini, summer squash, green snap peas, onions and radish!), spinach, apple and mustard on 7-grain.  As I dived into my sandwich, the Swiss cheese, flavorful and smooth, complemented the slight tang of the freshly pickled veggies. The mustard added a great zing. Nothing soggy or mundane about this sandwich!

Every time I eat a Sherman sandwich I am left satisfied but never sluggish. If I ever could not finish my meal, which would be rare at this café, then I can trustingly place my leftovers in the recycle bin because Sherman composts food waste through Save That Stuff in Charlestown. I also admire how this place supports local art. Currently you’ll find wonderfully horrendous selections from the Museum of Bad Art adorning Sherman’s walls.

Want to take some of Sherman Cafe home with you? No problem. Jump over to Sherman Market, around the corner at 22 Union Square, to pick up fresh bread from Clear Flour in Brookline, or homemade cream cheeses and hummus (the green hummus is amazing), or some tasty goat cheese from Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery.

Editor’s Note: As you may have heard, Susan Olsen, a.k.a., Cindy Brady, is coming to the 70s-themed Fluff Festival this Saturday. So, Sherman Cafe is honoring the Brady Bunch and all things Fluff with their menu this weekend! They’ll offer a “Sam the Butcher Salad,” and an “Alice Fruit Salad” with apples, pears and spicy candied Pecans. There will also be sandwiches like the “Marsha,” the “Greg” and the “Peter,” which will be a ham and apple slice sandwich—referring to the pork chops and apple sauce episode where Peter did his curious Humphrey Bogart impression. Sherman will also be serving up grilled fluffernutters with bananas, chocolate pumpkin whoopie pies with fluff filling and, of course, rice crispy treats.

Finally, Sherman is segueing into fall with items like local cider savory items like the Three Sisters Pasta Salad, which is a medley of corn, butternut squash, beans, spinach and peppers with a sherry basil vinaigrette. Mmmm, fall looks delicious.

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