Tucked behind a row of restaurants on William Street is a tiny cafe that you might miss. I did for the first two years I lived here, but it immediately bumped its way to the top of my favorites list. Enter its door and you’re greeted with the delightful aroma of freshly baked croissants and cookies, a mouthwatering display case of desserts, a surprisingly large menu of sandwiches and salads considering the size, and one of the friendliest cafe owners you may meet.
Here & Abroad Bistro – Bakery is a “hidden gem” by all accounts in downtown Fredericksburg, perfect for a quick lunch date, a mid-morning snack, or a takeout lunch for the office or nearby park. Always behind the counter, chef/owner Purna Shrestha is eager to please, and will remember your name, where you work, and any other tidbits you’ve chatted about. Ask for suggestions and he’s quick to answer.
And you may need help choosing from among the menu items. Sandwiches ($6.95) are served on homemade croissants or multi-grain baguettes, and are filled with fresh ingredients in classic and creative combinations: turkey and havarti; turkey with bacon, cheddar and honey mustard; ham with swiss and spicy brown mustard; roast beef with pepper jack; ham with brie and raspberry mayo; turkey with muenster and avocado; avocado with cucumber and a feta spread. Paninis ($7) are grilled on ciabatta (so good that I was surprised it wasn’t made here) and can be made with grilled vegetables, turkey avocado and muenster cheese, pizza toppings or the classic caprese pairings. Salad choices ($8) include three chicken salads — sesame chicken, lime and cilantro, and another with grapes and walnuts — as well as a tuna salad.
Too often, the vegetarian sandwich choice at cafes features hummus with a few out-of-season vegetables. It’s sad and overdone. Not here, though. Vegetarian choices are few, but intensely flavorful and delicious. My favorite is the Avocado Tremezzini, ciabatta with perfectly ripe slices of avocado, spinach and a caper spread. The chewy bread, creamy avocado, and the salty spread come together for a blissful experience. It’s a simple enough combination, one that perhaps I’ll recreate once I move, for I’ll be disappointed when this isn’t part of my regular lunch mix.
Let’s not forget the desserts. I now know that croissants are some of the most time-consuming treats to make, especially for a small batch at home. Purna’s croissants are some of the best, flaky and buttery, good microwaved to melt the chocolate hiding within, or sandwiching layers of meat and cheese. Other sweet options include scones, almond cake, chocolate mousse, mini cream puffs, tiramisu and cheesecake brownies. You can’t go wrong. Round out your lunch with Thai iced tea, coffee or an espresso drink, and look at your calendar to plan your next visit.
Here & Abroad Bistro – Bakery
1004 Princess Anne Street, Fredericksburg, Va. (Go around the back of Hyperion Coffee)
540-371-2999 / Fax 540-371-2998 (Call or fax in takeout orders)
Catering menu also available
Tuesday – Friday: 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m
Sunday: 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.