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Discerning Diner

Discerning Diner: Kimberly's Cafe survives pandemic with friendly atmosphere, good food

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A little over two years ago, Gina Hays and her family took over the ownership of Kimberly’s Café in Carlisle. It was a tall order to step into the shoes of the previous owner who had made the small restaurant that sits at the traffic light at Cherry and High streets a tradition for Dickinson College students and local residents alike.

On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic came along less than a year after the ownership transition. The restaurant rolled with the punches, offering its breakfast and lunch fare for takeout when lockdowns were ordered and working through employee shortages.

It’s been a long haul, but the café is still – as one Carlisle resident once described it – “Cheers without the beer.”

The café is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays so the menu focuses on breakfast and lunch fare.

I opted for the lunch menu during a recent visit, but a quick look at the café’s Facebook page shows some of the types of specials diners can expect for breakfast, including omelets, breakfast sandwiches, pancakes and waffles.

The lunch menu includes soups, sandwiches, salads and quiche. I was excited to see the Garden Bounty on the sandwich menu. That sandwich fills a warm pita with grilled tomato, mushrooms, green peppers, onion, cheddar cheese and lettuce. The Home Run was also tempting with its combination of Swiss, Provolone and cheddar cheeses combined with bacon and tomato.

Some of the names of menu items are a nod to Carlisle area people and places. The Dickinson Salad, for example, includes grilled chicken, mixed greens, bacon, dried cranberries, red onions, shredded Parmesan cheese and sugared walnuts with a poppy seed dressing.

If burgers are your thing, you can opt for the Molly Pitcher Burger, which includes bacon, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce and an onion ring; or the Red Devil Burger that also has bacon but is topped with sharp American Cheese, salsa and jalapeno peppers.

On the wraps menu, there’s a tribute to Carlisle Area School District with the Thundering Herd wrap (chicken tenders, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, buffalo sauce and ranch sauce) and the Courthouse Wrap (ham, turkey, roast beef, horseradish, lettuce, tomato, onion and Swiss cheese).

The Courthouse Wrap is a great example of one of my favorite things about the menu at Kimberly’s. It has familiar items, but some of them have a little twist. In the Courthouse Wrap, it’s the horseradish, which isn’t all that common in any restaurant sandwich, much less in a wrap. The Turkey Bacon Wrap is topped with a tomato vinaigrette dressing.

I opted for the bacon, tomato and cheese quiche, which came with a side salad. It was a hard choice because there were about half a dozen options for quiche that day including a tempting broccoli and cheese quiche. The salad came out quickly and was topped with a generous amount of shredded cheese. The quiche took a little longer but was worth the wait. The slice had a healthy amount of bacon to give a crunch to the otherwise softer textures of the cheese and cooked tomatoes.

Overall, Kimberly’s Café’s variety of breakfast and lunch items make the restaurant worth a visit. Its friendly, efficient staff is what has made it a favorite in Carlisle.

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