The Canal Walk and nearby beaches along the pipeline provide romantic settings for a weekday respite at lunchtime.
And Canal Cafe, located on the south side of the canal (1001 Haxall Point), is the perfect picnic caterer.
Opened in January by father and son partners Steve and Jeff Austin, Canal Cafe serves freshly made breakfast and lunch fare to area residents and office workers. Considering the attentively prepared and generously sized sandwiches, efficient service, convenient location, and casual atmosphere, it’s no surprise that this unpretentious eatery enjoys regular customers.
With 12 years of Richmond restaurant experience, including fine dining, the younger Austin has mastered the art of personalizing service and addressing his customers by name.
Suitable for everyday consumption, the Canal Cafe’s menu features both basic and specialty sandwiches. Such simple pleasures as a crunchy and tasty “Kanawha Chicken Salad,” roast beef and Swiss, and the “Garden,” a vegetarian option with grilled vegetables and vinaigrette, are offered with a selection of breads, toppings, and sauces. Side dishes include salads, chips, chili, soup of the day, and yogurt.
Each day of the week, the Cafe serves a different Panini, such as the “Pastrami Mushroom Melt,” available on Tuesdays, and “Pepper-Bacon and Cheddar,” available on Fridays. Wednesday’s Panini, the “Bateaux Cheesesteak,” is one of their most popular items, according to the senior Austin, Steve. Steve, who learned the business through his 20 plus years as cafeteria manager for a large factory in Long Island, describes the cheese-steak as, “a cross between a Philly Cheesesteak and a French dip,” uniting the most appealing elements of each.
A small indoor dining area and a lovely courtyard outside provide pleasant options for on-site dining. The Canal Cafe’s dishes also travel well, and their box lunches are ideal for consumption at some of the area’s more intimate and scenic spots.