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Discerning Diner

Discerning Diner: Sunrise Cafe in Carlisle serves up unique sandwiches in building that is anything but run of the mill

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I think it’s tremendous when history lovers swoop down on old houses and bring them back to their original condition, then share them with the public. That’s what building owner Mike Adler and Sunrise Café operator Tara Stasi did with the John Hayes Mansion located at 231 N. Hanover St., in Carlisle.

Stasi and Adler were subsequently recognized for their effort for the mansion — named after a Civil War soldier and founder of Frog, Switch — winning the Commercial Award from the Carlisle Borough Historical Architectural Review Board in 2019 for preserving historical elements and recreating the patio and wraparound porch. Stasi serves customers breakfast and lunch in the 300-plus-year-old building.

When my husband and I visited during the lunch hour last week, we took advantage of free parking located in the back of the building (there’s also free parking on the side). When we entered, we were impressed with the attractive décor, from the soaring windows, to the beautiful hardwood floors, the exposed brick and original stone, the cheery yellow paint and the original fireplaces. Adding to the allure are the historical photos pertaining to Hayes on the wall. First-time customers may wish to consider strolling through the place before placing their orders up front.

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Guests can order from a large chalkboard located above the fireplace in the front room. The manageable menu includes a selection of bagels and breakfast sandwiches. Included on the list are sandwiches with names like “The New Yorker,” comprised of two over-easy eggs topped with Havarti and warm corned beef on griddled, seeded rye; and the “Healthy Morning,” containing two egg whites, spinach and sliced tomato on toasted multigrain, with homemade avocado spread.

One of the more intriguing options, which is a contrast to the “Healthy Morning,” is called “The Tommy.” Described as a buttery griddled glazed doughnut with a hard-scrambled egg, white cheddar and pork sausage, it may be worth the occasional indulgence.

Homemade soups and about a dozen unique lunch sandwiches round out the menu. They include handhelds like the “Manzo Manzo,” with corned beef, pastrami, Swiss and a yellow and spicy brown mustard topped with homemade cranberry and almond slaw on griddled, seeded rye, with jalapenos optional. There’s also the “Garden Italian” made with sliced mozzarella, fresh spinach, sliced tomato and a balsamic glaze on a soft brioche roll; and the “Courthouse Combo,” comprised of turkey, crumbled bacon, roasted red peppers, Colby Jack and fresh lettuce, spread with homemade garlic herb aioli and avocado on a plain roll.

I am always happy to see a half-sandwich/soup option, so I decided on the “John Haye’s Special,” and chose the “Quirky Turkey” made with turkey, Havarti, lettuce, tomato and homemade chipotle mayo on toasted sourdough, for my half sandwich ($9.95). The special came with the “soup of the day,” which was broccoli cheddar.

My husband opted for a breakfast sandwich called “The Long Island,” made with two over-medium eggs, American cheese and thick-sliced bacon served on a poppy seed roll ($7.95). To that he added the sandwich known as the Tutto Questo, made with corned beef, turkey, ham, American, Colby Jack, lettuce, tomato, pickle chips, mustard and homemade Tuscan dressing and served on a plain roll ($10.50).

Because it was such a beautiful day, we decided to dine outside on the lovely wraparound porch and plant ourselves street side to watch the world go by as we enjoyed what was likely to be one of the last days of warm weather as we head into fall.

Within 15 minutes, we were digging into our lunches. My broccoli cheddar soup was very light and, in my opinion, could have used a bit more seasoning, which was no problem. A cheerful employee brought me salt and pepper shakers as I delved into my sandwich, which was clearly the standout and full of flavor. I am sometimes hesitant to order a turkey sandwich at restaurants because they can be bland. That was certainly not the case here. There was something about that delicious, homemade, chipotle mayo that amplified the flavor and elevated the sandwich to cravable territory.

My husband felt similarly about his sandwiches. He said, “I loved the extremely light poppy seed roll, which allowed me to enjoy the full flavor of the perfectly cooked eggs and the layer of thick bacon.” His praise also extends to the Tutto Questo, which he described as “uniquely satisfying,” adding, “If you enjoy deli meats and mustard, this is your kind of sandwich.”

The lightly dressed, crunchy cole slaw and bread and butter pickles were served alongside our sandwiches and were a nice accompaniment.

If we wanted to end our lunches on a sweet note, we could have chosen from an array of items like homemade scones, sticky buns, cream horns, coffee cake, or the seldom offered pignoli cookies, which may warrant another stop in the future.

If you’re tired of the same old, run-of-the-mill sandwich selections in uninspired surroundings, I suggest giving the Sunrise Café a try. You’ll be glad you did.

Up Next: North Mountain Inn in North Middleton Township

Sunrise Cafe

The wraparound porch at Sunrise Cafe in Carlisle is great for enjoying a bite and watching the world go by.

Sunrise Cafe

The “Long Island” breakfast sandwich is made with two over-medium eggs, American cheese and thick-sliced bacon served on a poppy seed roll.

Sunrise Cafe

Sunrise Cafe makes a flavorful "Quirky Turkey" sandwich, offered in a half-portion with soup.

Sunrise Cafe

The “Tutto Questo” is made with corned beef, turkey, ham, American, Colby Jack, lettuce, tomato, pickle chips, mustard and homemade Tuscan dressing and served on a plain roll.

Sunrise Cafe

Part of the John Haye’s special at Sunrise Cafe is the soup of the day, which was broccoli cheddar when we visited.

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