July 15, 2014 at 10:29am
The doors are open once more at the Rogers Street establishment formerly known as Sage's Brunch House. The sign out front now reads "Page St. Café"-the original name of Rogers was Page Street - but the fragrances wafting from its open kitchen are every bit as appealing.
Joel Hart, one of the creative talents behind Dino's Coffee Bar, is responsible for an eclectic menu that slings huevos rancheros, curried tofu and tartines at breakfast, then adds fajitas, artisan bratwurst and killer mac and cheese for lunch and dinner. One of those bubbly pasta classics emerges from the oven as I walk in, dripping and oozing with cholesterol-laden delights. Hart shows it off proudly. "Look at that!" he crows. "No one else does it like that!" I'm hard pressed to disagree.
Hart warns he's something of a talker. This is also true. "I'm a native Westsider," he begins. "This building has always been magical to me. I used to come in and buy candy from Eddie when it was Eddie's Groceries. I got my first candy cigarette here when I was seven years old. It was all downhill from there.
"We opened Dino's and roasted our own coffee," Hart continues. "It kinda blew up. We began offering a small menu to support the coffee business, and people started coming through the door. It was as though Olympia had never seen a plate of food before. In the first 18 months, we outgrew our seating capacity. Sage, who's a friend of mine, came to me and said she was retiring. We took over this space and spent 60 days on the remodel, then opened on Saturday the 15th. We're trying to keep it Olympia and offer something this community wants. It's locally-sourced, fresh, quality food with awesome coffee and beer on tap."
I note the wide variety of dishes on Page St.'s menus. "I really got to know food when I traveled in Spain," Hart explains. "I was introduced to lots of ingredients I'd never worked with before. Our menu bridges the gap between traditional American food and some European influences, but I really believe the roots of our menu are American. Our entire philosophy of what we do is simplicity. We're not trying to reinvent the wheel; it's about honest sourcing philosophies and honest cooking techniques. We don't own a microwave. We don't have a freezer. We don't need a fryer. It helps us maintain our original vision. When you don't use modern tools, you're forced to work with old-school philosophies. We have a lot of respect for ingredients. All our dressings, our sauces - it's all from scratch. While that seems daunting for a lot of establishments, it's really the best way to put out a good product."
Preach it, brother. Hart may have the gift of gab, but his food clearly speaks for itself.
PAGE ST. CAFÉ, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, 903 Rogers St. NW, Olympia, 360.878.8490
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