Walking in, the first thing you notice is that you're standing in a large open area devoted to ready-to-eat foods. There's sushi from Kaiyo, a pasta station, a truly impressive salad bar that stretches well beyond the advertised 20 feet and a bakery case filled with goodies from local makers like Coca Dolce, and homemade gelato.
This is by design, owner John Cosentino told me. "We knew our crowd would be more urban, quicker on the go. People that don't eat in as much. They can come in and get something here in minutes that's just as delicious as something made at home." Store manager Mark Lenz later added, "We anticipate a lot of our day business will be office workers... our floral section is expanded and at the front of the store so you can get your secretary or boss something over lunch."
On the south side of the store is a full liquor selection. In addition to having more wines, Lenz said he purposely stocked a lot of single can beers like Chimay and Young's Double Chocolate Stout. "I understand there's beer geeks just as there are wine geeks. I'm not one of them but I know what they look for and we try to have that."
I made my way over there at about 11:15 to grab some lunch with some coworkers. I believe that every other downtown worker was in the store at the same time. I had to decide which line I was going to stand in; the deli sandwich, the brick oven pizza, the warm prepared meal (such as fried chicken and sausage and peppers), the regular deli, the salad bar, the sushi bar or the olive bar. Luckily it wasn't time for dessert or I would have had to choose from the gelato counter or the chocolates (which I had to look to see if Christopher Elbow was selling his chocolates in the market, he's not, but these chocolates are just as artistic).
I decided upon the deli sandwich stand where I was going to get a panini. As I got in line I took a long gander at the grill where a guy was grilling some pitas and meat on a flat-top grill. He was preparing gyros and trying to drum up some business. I asked what the meat was and he said beef/lamb combo, which made me instantly want some. So I lucked out that I didn't have to wait to get a 'wich. The guy asked if I liked it spicy, which I answered in the affirmative. He put some sort of green pesto on the meat, then added tomatoes (which I had to pick off later) and onions and drenched it in the cucumber sauce. I was a little worried that it was too covered in white sauce but it turned out to be the right amount. He told me I was going to like it so much that I would be back tomorrow.
I went up to a cashier and paid (approximately $6.50) and walked back over to the office. I sat down in my floor's little lunch area overlooking Cosentino's and started in on my gyro. From the first bite I was hooked. Aside from looking like Chimpotle on his prom night from all the white sauce on my mouth, it was a nearly perfect little gyro. It may have had a couple too many onions on it, it may not have, your mileage may vary. But it was a quality item that I think I will enjoy again tomorrow.
It may be tough to go back to the gyro because there were so many items that caught my eye. A coworker brought back some fried chicken (which I used to enjoy from the Brookside Market). Another coworker got one of the paninis and really enjoyed it. The sushi looked good to me as well, I think I'll probably have a spicy crab roll at some point this week. We downtowners now have some choices.
I know that the downtown residents are licking their chops waiting to drop by on their way home from work. The downtown workers sure did their part today in keeping the Downtown Market open for a long time. But most of all Cosentino's did their part today in keeping the Downtown Market open. It was truly a wonderful experience.