European cafes are renowned for incubating ideas, and Saint Alban, styled after continental coffeehouses, has been the beneficiary of lots of them.
The latest project from Brooks Reitz and Tim Mink, who last collaborated on Leon’s Oyster Shop, Saint Alban was originally intended to be the sort of place where patrons met friends in the evening to sip sherry, nibble on olives and swap philosophies.
Sherries and olives are on the menu at Saint Alban, which opened earlier this month. But the cafe has stayed so busy serving workers on their way to the office, friends sharing morning pastries and solo eaters seeking a sandwich in the mid-afternoon that it did away with nighttime hours after being in business for two weeks (the space is likely to ultimately serve as the backdrop for ticketed guest chef dinners, Reitz says.)
Chef Ari Kolender’s breakfast menu, originally developed for a kitchen equipped only with a convection oven and pair of injection burners, features chia seed pudding, granola, caramelized grapefruit and a buckwheat waffle with ricotta. After 11 a.m., there are three $4 tartinettes, baguette sandwiches, cheese and charcuterie. Reitz says more daytime menu items are in the works. He’s already hired a baker to handle muffins, scones and other pastries.
In addition to coffee, the beverage menu includes wine, two draft beers and a negroni.
“It’s really streamlined and simple,” Reitz told The Post and Courier in advance of Saint Alban’s opening. “When I ask chefs, when I ask writers, about places they love, they typically love these kind of places.”
And judging from the opening crowds, the demographic isn’t limited to chefs and writers.
Saint Alban, 710 King St., is open daily from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; it opens an hour later on Sundays. For more information, visit saintalbanallday.com.