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Schoolhouse Cafe

Paoli SchoolhouseIn a word: Schoolhouse rocks.

The specs: #0588  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Isthmus, Insider Pages, Yelp; official web site, Schoolhouse Cafe on Urbanspoon

JM ate the pulled pork sandwich with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the summer salad/beef barley soup combo with an iced tea.
We split a slice of red velvet cake.
The bill was $32, or $16/person, plus tip.
JM gave Schoolhouse Cafe an A-; Nichole gave Schoolhouse Cafe an A (see our grading rubric).

Latest Schoolhouse Cafe news and reviews

Schoolhouse was a little schmancier than we expected. We arrived in casual-to-sporty dress, one of us glowing from a long pedal down Highway PB, yet the hostess let us on the patio and probably would have just as hospitably seated us in the well-appointed parlor.

The decor was very refined, pink glass salt and pepper shakers and all; the menu was Cajun-inflected, with a po' boy, file gumbo, and crabcakes. According to the server, this was more due to the popularity of those dishes than the background or training of the chef.

JM's lemonade hit all the right notes: strong, sugary, and sour. Nichole's iced tea was served perfectly brewed. Every glass, be it of water, limo or tea, came with a bright lemon slice.

Pulled pork sandwich

JM's pulled pork sandwich on airy ciabatta was very sweet and tender, yet not syrupy.  Each mouthful alternated warm and chewy with a nice rich sauce. The side of slaw was quite bland (or fresh, depending on your POV). Even the pickle spear was snappier than most.

Summer salad and soupNichole got the half-salad-and-half-soup deal. The "summer salad" was made up of fresh local greens, purple grapes, ripe strawberries, raw pecans, an assertive bleu cheese, and mild purple onions with a blush wine vinaigrette on the side. The dressing was most impressive - clearly it had been freshly whisked, since we could still see some bubbles. Big flavors of fresh herbs and undissolved bits of (sea? kosher? - whichever, it was good) salt made each forkful interesting. The beef barley mushroom soup had a big hit of beef flavor in each spoonful. There was a pat of herbed honey butter for the bread.

Dessert was a point of discussion. There was a coconut creme pie which we snapped a photo of on the way out. There was also a red velvet cake. Nichole had been on a quest to see what the big deal about red velvet cake is ever since she endured a conversation about how it was Megan Fox's weight-gain treat of choice (file under: problems most people wish they had; see also: having a good memory is sometimes no fun, actually). So far, cupcakes, soul food and even homemade have failed to impress - red velvet cake usually ends up tasting like so much food coloring.

Red velvet cakeCoconut creme pie

However, this multi-layer dessert was made memorable by the fresh raspberry puree on the plate, the ample cream cheese frosting, and good chocolate chips. The cake was moist and slightly cocoa-y but not bitter with redness. We're still at a loss about why a cake needs to be red, but this is the best one we think we're likely to find, so we'll stop looking now.

Schoolhouse also serves dinners: pizza, steak, pasta, and a Roth Kase plate are the popular items. We'll come back for a refined light lunch sometime soon.


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Yum - glad you liked this place. I had a chance to go there for the first time this past spring and was so pleasantly surprised. It's a treat and feels like a little Madison secret.

You can get the same red velvet cake from SuperTarget's bakery (by the slice or as a whole cake). At least I've never seen any other bakery that layers chocolate w/ the cream cheese AND has chocolate chips on top. Of course, it wouldn't come with the raspberry puree.
And I'm not sayin' its a bad thing - Target's red velvet cake is my personal favorite. Red velvet cupcakes from Clasen's are a close second.

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