when every block on broadway reveals shuttered restaurants and boutiques, how refreshing it is to glimpse the big bouquet of pink balloons heralding the much-awaited opening of corner café and bakery. this is the upper west side branch of the third avenue corner café and bakery, operated by paul dimino (dimino is slated to open a third outpost in september at 1246 madison ave., between 89th and 90th streets). it's immaculate, airy and charming, with colander lamp fixtures and roomy tables where you can nosh alone or with friends.
from the prepared foods in back, i chose a large, round maryland seafood cake ($3.75). i'm like my mother when it comes to crab
cakes-picky. crab pieces must be discrete, big chunks, but the cake can't fall apart. here, sizeable chunks of shrimp, crab and scrod aren't swamped in breading but hold their own, in taste and texture. another standout is the mango, jicama and cucumber salad ($4.99/1/2 pound), which, sprinkled with cilantro, defines "refreshing."
going for a little surf n' turf, i picked a roast beef sandwich on a challah roll ($4.25) from a wide array of mini-sandwiches, including a ham and swiss on a doll-sized baguette. the roast beef was as pink as tuna sashimi, tender and came with-surprise-fried onions on top and zesty mustard beneath. now if i only had room for dessert! -- corner café and bakery 2328 broadway (between 84th and 85th streets) 212-860-5965
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