The Daily Gamecock

New cafe boasts great menu, vibe

Location below Cool Beans offers delicious meals, brunch all day at affordable prices

Cool Beans has long been known as one of the best study-time hideouts around campus, beating out the library and study rooms with its hipster vibe and large selection of scrumptious café treats.

Since the late-December opening of College Grounds Café in its new location on the first floor of Cool Beans, the café has earned all kinds of praise.

College Grounds Café is more than inviting with its yellow walls and green two-tops that can easily be pushed together for a bigger group. The largely open café, with open walls separating three smaller rooms, is quite cozy with a wood-burning fireplace and black-and-white photographs adorning the walls. The front of the small restaurant houses bar-style seating with a wide window looking out onto College Street.

The only thing that beats College Grounds’ atmosphere and design is its impressive menu, filled with dishes fit for an on-the-go bite or a casual lunch out. The menu and logo design also get credit, centering on the bushy-tailed squirrel notorious around USC’s campus.

Brunch is served all day, offering home-style favorites or a little pre-class fuel with everything from a toasted bagel topped with strawberries, spinach or honey walnut cream cheese,to Belgian waffles with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. The brunch menu also features breakfast sandwiches or pitas, with combinations of bacon, ham, egg and cheese, all for under $4.50. In fact, the most expensive homemade breakfast treat, the Belgian waffle with berries and cream, runs for just $6.50.

The full menu only continues to tease the taste buds with a small but delicious and healthy selection of soups and salads. The strawberry, walnut and spinach salad topped with mozzarella cheese and fat-free raspberry vinaigrette looks more like a work of art — and tastes like one, too — served up in a simple, white ceramic bowl filled to the brim with leafy greens.

Sandwiches are certainly the College Grounds’ dishes of choice, with 13 equally wonderful choices offered on freshly baked French bread, thick-cut wheat bread or pita. The turkey breast and provolone sandwich on French with mayonnaise, avocado, sprouts and tomato is nothing short of delicious, making a simple classic uniquely tasty. The college club filled with Dijon mustard, turkey, ham, roast beef and melted mozzarella also hits the spot.

Side items and a tea, coffee or soda can be added to a meal for $2.50. The Adluh cheese grits would meet any Southerner’s standard, with the Adluh flour adding a little weight to the scrumptious side dish. A homemade rice pilaf also rounds out the pleasing list of sides.

Freshly squeezed juices and blended smoothies, including a boysenberry-blackberry frozen mix, add to College Grounds Cafe’s lunchtime and grab-and-go appeal. Located at 1217 College St., the café is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.