If you want to take a little trip back in time, simply arrange to have lunch with your friends at Sofie’s Chatterbox, located on the Rupert Square. This is not to say that the restaurant is out of date or old in physical appearance, rather, in the social experience of dining at a local café, which will take you back in time.
Ambiance: For many years the location now known as Sofie’s Chatterbox has been a restaurant, so when you walk in the door it might seem to be a little familiar. The seating is sturdy but dated and the linoleum on the floor is well worn. This ‘experience’ as I will call it is all the testimony you’ll need to know this is a gathering place for young and old alike. The restaurant has an appeal that will restore your memory of a time in America where people gathered to exchange the news of the day, enjoy a beverage of their choosing and share company with others.
Seating: There are twice as many tables and chairs as there are booths, but they are all clean and inviting. We chose a booth by the window where my wife could look onto the beauty of the Rupert Square and I could peer into the restaurant, enjoying the diversity of customers who were enjoying their day with their friends and family.
Noise: There was no background music playing so it was easy to overhear a conversation or two from other patrons. Sometimes music playing in the background of a restaurant invites people to talk louder so their party can hear what they are saying, which results in more ambient noise. We were about as far away from the kitchen as you could sit so there was no noise coming from that direction. From what I could tell there were just two or three employees there when we were eating lunch which kept the noise to a minimum.
There is something quaint about seeing two elderly gentlemen visiting with each other over a cup of coffee. I envisioned two life-long friends catching up on the news of the day, face to face instead of it coming from a noisy and intrusive television as you see in so many restaurants these days. It brought me a measure of joy to know that those traditions of meeting at a café and sharing each other’s ideas hasn’t completely been lost in America.
Service: We had a delightful young waitress who glided around the restaurant taking care of her customers. There was a smile on her face to greet us and the service she gave us throughout our meal was top notch. How much more do I need to say? As we finished our meal a woman came in and seated herself at the soda counter. “Do you want your usual?” the waitress asked. When the answer was yes the server simply told the cook that the customer wanted her usual and the order was placed. How often in this time of corporate cookie cutter food on every corner can you find a scenario where the server and the cook know what “Barbara” wants for lunch? It is a lost art in America.
Food: My meal came out almost as fast as it would have taken at a fast food restaurant. I ordered chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and country gravy. I had a steamy homemade roll with butter and honey and a side of corn. It was fantastic. This special of the day wasn’t something I would typically have for lunch, but it sounded, and it tasted fantastic. Cheryl ordered half a turkey sandwich and the turkey was cut in a generous serving size. There were so many tater-tots on her plate that she had to take some of them home in a carry out container. Her sandwich was made of fresh baked bread from the restaurant. Who does this for their customers in this day of pre-prepared food service? It was a joy to dine at Sofie’s Chatterbox.
Value: Our meal came to $17 and change, which is a great value for the amount of food we were served. Hours later my wife commented that she was still full from lunch so there would be no supper, though I hope she was kidding. To be fair, it’s 7 p.m. and I’m not hungry either.
Bathrooms: Given the restrictions of occupying an older building which can be difficult to modify and modernize, the bathrooms were in good shape. They are small, almost cramped, but they are tiled nicely and have what you need, a toilet and a sink.