– 386 Main Street
– Open seven days a week
– 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
– $$ ½- Rating: 3.5/5
I was with my parents when I first stumbled across the recently opened restaurant New England Emporium. We were on our way to the overly crowded It’s Only Natural, looking for a low-key, tasty meal that could satisfy my vegetarian father. The Emporium fit the bill.
Located at the front of Main Street Market, the new eatery features a display of artisan goods from across New England in the front of the store, as well as a dining area in the back with a selection of sandwiches, salads, and crepes.
The New England Emporium opened its doors in June after a massive renovation that included putting in new hardwood floors and a copper countertop. The seating area is an interesting mix of tables, couches, and bar countertops with décor including a rotating art exhibit from local artists, as well as a 10-foot driftwood log from the Connecticut River with a colorful stain glass canopy hanging above it.
The eatery, which is open for all three meals, has a wide choice of sandwich options that range from a classic Rueben to the “Emporium Fluffernutter” to a roast beef and blue cheese Ciabatta. You can also create your own sandwich with a variety of different ingredients. The delicious “Portobello and More” sandwich that I ordered was served on 7-grain bread with sprouts, goat cheese, radicchio and basil mayo and a side of chips. The sandwich was $8.25, which seemed moderately overpriced given the fact that I still wanted a bowl of soup afterwards.
The Emporium also includes a crepe station with both savory and sweet crepes. Although it’s not quite up to Parisian standards, the crepes were a nice alternative to the sandwich and salad bar for those who wanted to branch out a bit more. The crepes range from $4 for a honey crepe to $8 for a lox crepe. My mom ordered the Marguerite crepe, which included Brie, tomatoes, basil, and sun-dried tomato butter. Although the buckwheat crepe was kind of nutty and a little too healthy tasting, the Nutella dessert crepe that we shared topped off our meal nicely.
The Emporium also includes a breakfast sandwich and crepe section, as well as a salad bar option. A coffee bar, featuring specialty drinks as well as 18 varieties of tea, is situated near the artisan marketplace which displays specialty items from across New England including jams, pickles, beans, coffee, tea and chocolate. The restaurant also serves gelato from the local company Gelato Guiliani.
As a dinner restaurant, the New England Emporium was a cheap alternative to other fancy Middletown restaurants. But as a coffee shop and sandwich lunch place, the menu seemed moderately overpriced despite the free-wifi and laid-back vibe. Although Middletown may not really need another coffee shop, I have no doubt that the Emporium will see success by filling the local food and creperie niche.