Unless you're getting takeout (which Munch often is), ambiance at a restaurant matters. We go some places because we want to feel fancy and to dine on nonplastic tablecloths. We go to others because we want to feel like we're a part of something cool and trendy. And others, too, because we're 3,000 miles away from our familial homes and we like the feeling, if ever briefly, of being a part of someone else's.
Everyday's a Sundae, at first glance, is a pretty ordinary cafe and ice cream parlor. Located in a space on East Liberty's Penn Circle formerly occupied by Vanilla Cupcakes, there's a handful of high tables and a broad storefront window for great people watching. The fare on the menu is nothing exciting -- wraps and sandwiches, pastries in a glass-front case.
But the best part of the cafe was the service -- a couple who was inordinately friendly, if not swift. I felt a little bit like I was at the home of the coolest kid in class, the one whose mother always had fresh cookies waiting, a full complement of cable channels and a pantry full of junk food that my own mother banned from our diets
I went with a couple of regular dining partners -- Brady McCollough and Allison Hong, both worn out after busy weekends, on a Sunday afternoon (because what's better than a sundae on a Sunday?). Although tempted by ice cream treats -- a Belgian waffle topped with a scoop, a banana split -- we decided it would be best to start with a proper meal.
Brady got the Da Vinci, a sandwich of turkey cold cuts, Swiss cheese served on a rosemary-tinged ciabatta. A thin spread of pesto made the otherwise ordinary hoagie a stand-out. The Roaster, a wrap with cold cuts, slices of cheese, tomatoes and a roast pepper spread was similarly satisfying. Both were $8.95, with chips or potato salad and a drink
Allison went for a breakfast sandwich ($4), gooey melted cheese, bacon and a scrambled egg served on a heavenly, flaky croissant.
Next, onto the good stuff. I first ordered a banana split to share ($6.50), but the woman -- exceedingly apologetic -- said they were out. OK, how about a Belgian waffle?
To make up for the lack of bananas, she instantly doubled my order. Two Belgian waffles ($6.50 each) for the price of one, each topped with gigantic ice cream scoops. I chose vanilla for one and for the other moose tracks -- rich chocolate with chocolate candy chunks. The Belgian waffles weren't fresh, but they were homemade and decadently fluffy. They were topped with mouth puckeringly sweet strawberries and pineapple in syrup, whipped cream, hot fudge and nuts.
We dug in to the gorgeous towers of sweetness. Mouths stuffed with waffles and ice cream, we all groaned approvingly.
And then the woman returned -- "Here, try these cookies I just made" -- an order, not a suggestion. I was glad for it -- white chocolate chunks mixed with apricots. Later, she overheard us talking about chili. (Food talk occupies about 80 percent of conversations between Allison and I.)
"I can make you chili," she said. "When do you want to come back?"
I supposed that's what makes this cafe special. There are probably other places where you can get a decent sandwich and 10,000 calories of ice cream piled on top of buttery waffles. But the genuine warmth and friendliness of the place are tough to match.
Everyday's a Sundae is at 6014 Penn Circle South, East Liberty; 412-363-2233.munch
Moriah Balingit: email@example.com, 412-263-2533 on Twitter @MoriahBee.