Sometimes you just want to eat normal stuff. No cheese-logged chile rellenos, no mammoth steaks, no burgers with fries dripping in grease, no vegan salad dressing; just the basics preserved in their natural state, like old people eat. Well, regular old food is the specialty at the John Street Café. Sandwiches come with a healthy accompaniment of oven-roasted potatoes or simple pickled cucumber slices. Soups come in varieties like roasted garlic. Turkey sandwiches come with Swiss and tomato. You are delivered from the land of fusion restaurants and transported to the land of simplicity.

Offering simple breakfasts, served at confusing times (until 11 am on weekdays, noon on Saturdays, and 2:30 on Sundays), the John Street isn't catering to the hungover breakfast crowd, but more the just-showered house-hunting couple. Try a stack of the John Street's delicious pancakes, or one of their vegetable loaded omelets (don't worry, they offer a bacon, avocado, jack & bleu cheese omelet for the heathen) and you'll feel spry enough to go for a hike. Their starkly clean, air-conditioned dining room and beautiful shady patio add to the John Street's sweet wholesome feeling and make dining there a simple pleasure.

The John's lunch menu is a little spare, but offers a similarly pure and decent selection of items, the most exciting being a blackened snapper. Moderately spicy, well executed, and paired with a salad or put on a sandwich, it's just plain good. The "tortilla" fares similarly. An interesting dish because it doesn't involve tortillas, it's a dough pocket filled with avocado, chilies, olives, cheese, sour cream, and jasmine rice, topped with salsa and served with a fresh green salad. The saltiness of the black olives, the fragrant flavor of the jasmine rice, and the richness of the avocado, cheese, and sour cream combine perfectly, keeping your mouth watering.

Other offerings are a sexy Greek salad with a tart, creamy Greek dressing (like a lighter, thinned out tzatzki), and huge chunks of feta. A friend who is a big fan of the John Street (she lives four blocks away) claims the Gardenburger salad is good, but with just veggies, rice, and Gardenburger, it sounds too much like food I'd eat if I had an ulcer. The Rueben, on the other hand, would satisfy your meat-loving ulcer-suffering Grandpa, and thank goodness, the cooks remember to slap on the Russian dressing. The John Street's Rueben is actually quite famous around town, and is by itself reason enough to try the place.

Overall, the John Street doesn't have me hankering for their food unprovoked. I don't think I'd drive there specifically, but then I have been known to make the trek to St. Johns for a Dairy Queen Blizzard. My priorities are clearly out of whack. I'd recommend the John Street to anyone with a Grandma in town, or to anyone who happens to be hungry and finds themselves in St. Johns; unless you're the type who prefers an Egg Fu Yung burger from the off-track betting joint up the street. (See pg 8)