When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out — and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Restaurant: Volstead Public House
Location: 105 W. Main St., Mesa
Open: About two months
Eats: Coffee, grilled cheese, salads
Price: $10 or less/person
On a recent weekday afternoon, we found new-ish coffeehouse Volstead Public House full of natural light and buzzing with energy. Mingling around the comfortable downtown Mesa coffeeshop were a group of co-workers making an afternoon coffee run, a pair of businessmen in the midst of a casual meeting, and several folks buried in their laptops at one of the shop's tables.
You'll find Volstead in the former home of Lo Fi Coffee, which closed its doors in early August, in the front of the all-ages music venue The Nile Theater. In addition to a menu of the usual coffee and espresso drinks featuring beans from Passport Coffee and Tea, Volstead also serves beer and cocktails and offers a limited food menu.
We tried Volstead's nitro cold brew ($4 for 16 ounces) and were a little surprised to see the shop serves its version of the trendy coffee drink with ice. Though the coffee was perfectly drinkable and offered bright acidic flavors, we didn't find the rich smoothness we've come to expect from nitro cold brew. The watery texture wasn't so extreme as to be off-putting, but didn't quite live up to our expectations. Next time, we might opt to save a couple bucks and go for the 24-ounce toddy, which also costs about $4.
For lunch options at Volstead, you have about a dozen options of sandwiches and salads with everything on the menu ringing up at $10 or less. On the sandwiches side, there are five grilled cheese sandwiches from which you can pick, as well as the option to create your own combination of veggies and cheese.
We ordered The Opal ($7.95), which includes zucchini, sweet potato, and yellow squash with herb mayo and provolone cheese. Volstead gives diners the option to order grilled cheeses with either vegan or dairy cheese. We went diary, but there was so little cheese in our sandwich that we might not have noticed the difference either way. On the upside, the Proof Artisan Bread that served as the sandwich's base was delicious.
The Southwest chicken salad ($6.95) made another acceptable vegan-friendly dining option featuring vegan chicken salad with green chile, chipotle mayo, and jack cheese over a bed of mixed greens. Like our sandwich, the salad left us far from blown away, but it did make a satisfying light afternoon snack.
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It seems fair to say that Volstead Public House already has become a popular destination with downtown Mesa locals. The combination of friendly service (albiet a little slow) and cozy vibe makes this an ideal place to catch up on e-mails or visit with a friend. Unfortunately, the drinks don't quite make it a coffee destination, and the food seems like more a secondary draw.