Those familiar with Sophia’s on Market, formerly located at 3700 Market Street in Hampden Township, may not be aware that the eatery has been under new management for about 8 months.
Fans of the restaurant, however, will be glad to hear that the longtime pastry chef, Megan Seiferth, who adored the place as much as the previous owner, agreed to take over when Sophia Nelms left to concentrate on her Silver Spring Township restaurant. Seiferth embraced the challenge wholeheartedly, sprucing up the eatery with a fresh coat of paint, new flooring and banquette seating.
The restaurant, now simply named Market, was doing brisk business last Friday when my companion and I arrived at 11:30 a.m. and joined a queue of about nine other customers, who, like us, were trying to avoid the noon rush.
As we waited in line, I was able to peruse the day’s specials written in large print on butcher paper hanging on the front wall and listing soups like gumbo, Thai curry shrimp and chicken noodle, along with an andouille sausage and cheddar quiche of the day and a special sandwich of grilled ham and provolone on sourdough. While standing in line, I grabbed a nearby “to go” menu to help me determine what else might tickle my fancy.
The one-page list of lunch options included a selection of about eight salads, like spinach with bacon, egg, roasted tomato, croutons and a champagne vinaigrette; a southwest salad comprised of romaine, grilled chicken, corn salsa, cucumber tortilla and a cilantro lime vinaigrette; and a fruity option with field greens, strawberries, blueberries, feta, toasted almonds and a poppy seed dressing.
The “hot sammies” section numbered about eight selections as well, with choices like market grilled cheese with sharp cheddar, provolone, goat cheese and roasted tomato on sourdough; pulled pork with Cole slaw on ciabatta; pressed turkey with brie and fig on multi-grain; and my partner’s choice of grilled steak, with caramelized onions, lettuce, blue cheese crumbles and garlic aioli on ciabatta ($12). A list of “cold sammies” were available as well, with ingredients like turkey, ham, pastrami, egg salad, roast beef and chicken salad.
I always appreciate the option of ordering a half sandwich during lunch, so I chose from the combo section of the menu listing a choice of a “half sammie and soup” ($9.50), and opted for the chicken salad sandwich, paired with the Thai Curry shrimp soup. Customers also have the option of pairing a half salad with soup.
When I asked the employee if I could substitute sourdough for a croissant, she took the substitute in stride and said she was happy to do so. I also asked if she could retrieve a ganache brownie topped with mini chocolate chips from the well-placed case filled with tempting sweets that I couldn’t ignore as I waited in line. I’m sure there’s a method to their madness, and my willpower is no match for well-conceived product placement.
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After leaving the line (which moved quickly), we proceeded around the corner to serve ourselves from the drink station before grabbing a seat near a window and placing a number we had been given in a holder so employees would know where to bring our respective meals.
While we waited for our lunch, I broke into the box holding my brownie, intending to take just a little bite, but enjoyed it so much that I ended up eating half of it then and there. The chewy, rich, triple chocolate threat would be fantastic when paired with the pumpkin spice latte that I saw listed on the menu for a breakfast option in the future.
As we witnessed the crowd grow larger, we glanced at our high number, speculating with trepidation, that dishes may be served in order. Luckily, they were not, and our meals arrived in about 15 minutes.
My “half sammie” made with grapes and pecans was tasty and something I would definitely order again. The sourdough bread was fresh and delicious, as well. The Thai coconut curry soup served with medium shrimp, a generous amount of mushrooms and slivers of red pepper, tasted strongly of ginger and lemon and will be a hit with those who like those flavor notes.
My companion thoroughly enjoyed his grilled steak sandwich served on hearty ciabatta and remarked on the tenderness of the meat, adding that the blue cheese and garlic aioli were an excellent complement to the steak.
Customers continued to make their way into the restaurant as we finished our meals and headed for the exit. This caused me to reflect on the dining scene in fast-growing Cumberland County. With chains popping up all around, it’s always refreshing to see independent restaurateurs drawing so much local support.
Market is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday and brunch on Saturday.
Next Up: Dinner at Mt. Fuji in Carlisle.