ELIZABETHTON — While living here in East Tennessee, I do sometimes miss the bustle and variety that I had in that large metropolis of my youth.

Then I get an email from somebody still in my old home town, and I am thankful to be in East Tennessee with my dining partner and doing something we both enjoy, like dining at a place like Elizabethton’s Coffee Company.

First impressions

The Coffee Company has been part of the downtown Elizabethton scene for, can it be 20 years? Ms. Frankie Bailey is the proprietor and has been for three years now. Bailey’s enthusiasm and quest for customer satisfaction is a hallmark of the Coffee Company. When you enter through the front or the back door, you are assailed with the aroma of, not just one pot of freshly brewed coffee or espresso, but several, each with its own particular fragrance and level of savor.

There is space in the restaurant’s two dining rooms for some 80 patrons. The larger of the two contains an antique sales counter, re-purposed as the cashier and carry-out station. The other dining room contains another sales counter re-purposed as the kitchen’s prep line. The restrooms, though of an age, are functional and clean as a whistle.

Chicken Salad on sourdough

Upon our arrival, manager Shannon seated us in the second dining room, affording my dining partner and I an unobstructed view of the restaurant’s prep line in action.

My dining partner had heard of The Coffee Company’s Summer Specials from a friend of hers, and wanted to try something from the lighter side of the menu. Joe, our helpful server, suggested the homemade Chicken Salad ($8.99) on some of their fresh-baked sourdough bread, and sided with some equally homemade potato salad. The lettuce and tomato ably assisted, but did not disguise, the flavor or texture of the chicken salad. The sourdough bread was so fresh it occasioned a little downpour of breadcrumbs every time my dining partner took a bite. The potato salad, homemade both in texture and taste, was excellent.

Fiesta Wrap with chips and salsa

My choice for our repast came from The Coffee Company’s main menu, being their Fiesta Wrap ($9.39) together with a side order of corn tortilla chips and the restaurant’s in-house tomato salsa. The wrap was a dinner-sized spinach flour tortilla (tomato basil is also available), and filled with thin slices of marinated and grilled chicken breast together with torn lettuce, diced tomato, purple onion and cheddar cheese, some ranch dressing and salsa being added for additional texture and flavor.

The marinated chicken was quite savory, especially with the tomato, onion, salsa and ranch dressing joining in. My side order of corn tortilla chips was a pleasant surprise: fresh, crunchy and with a flavor reminiscent of freshly-popped popcorn. The salsa had a nice pungency, and the person preparing it hadn’t skimped on including some finely diced jalapeno peppers to make my taste buds sparkle a bit.

While my dining partner and I were enjoying our meal, we were entertained by watching the kitchen staff assembling meals for their customers. The precision with which the team worked with each other was remarkable, each one checking the orders to assure correct pairings of entrée with side order, plating each to present the patron with a visually balanced and appetizing dish, and making sure the hot components stayed hot and the cold stayed cold. Quite a series of tasks to perform, especially so when done at speed with new orders coming in from a wait staff working two packed dining rooms, and there are more customers waiting for tables.

The bottom line

The Coffee Company is a professionally run restaurant in all respects. Ms. Frankie Bailey is to be commended for her enthusiasm and diligence in making her restaurant and its staff more than equal to the tasks that each business day brings. The atmosphere is comfortable, sun-lit and redolent of freshly ground and brewed coffees and espressos of every stripe and origin. Because the restaurant’s menu is well-developed and seasonal, The Coffee Company’s kitchen can take advantage of locally sourced, seasonally based produce and other comestibles.

As my dining partner, offering me a taste of her chicken salad croissant said, “Here try this. You can taste the freshness.”

Drop in, have The Coffee Company tempt you with their menu and their professional friendly service, and pamper you with some coffee-based aromatherapy.

See if you can “taste the freshness” as well.

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