No soup for you

If you stop in Tahoe Roasting Company, you might want to just stick with coffee.

If you stop in Tahoe Roasting Company, you might want to just stick with coffee.

photo by lauren Randolph

Tahoe Roasting Company

616 W. Fourth St.
Reno, NV 89503

(775) 378-1566

It’s always a bummer to write a negative review, especially for a locally owned, small business—the kind I like to see succeed. When people say they had a bad dining experience, they typically mean the food was poor, or the help was incompetent, or the place untidy. For me and my parents, when we lunched at the Tahoe Roasting Company on a Sunday afternoon, it was all of the above.

The sun was shining, and we were in high spirits when we went into the small cafe. After perusing the menu chalkboard for something tasty, my father approached the young woman at the counter and inquired about the day’s soups. She ignored him initially, then—without looking up—muttered, “Hold on,” and bent over and opened the glass refrigerator behind her and turned around with some store-bought boxes of soup to show him. He chose the butternut squash ($3.50) and the Black Forest ham and smoked gouda sandwich ($6.50). My mom and I both ordered the Greek pita (cucumbers, radishes, feta, tomatoes, $6.25), but were told in the same mutter that they were out of pita and had only bread. The young woman reached into the fridge and fingered an open, almost empty bag.

Outside, a hand-painted sign admonishing “No Parping” might be considered an early warning flag, but the inside is actually quite charming, with funky décor, mosaic tables and art for sale. And everything in the dining area is clean—until you reach the area where the food is prepared. The glass-door refrigerator behind the counter looked much like my own after a busy month. But I do not sell food out of mine.

After asking twice whether I could pay so I could sit down and stop loitering at the counter, the young woman began punching numbers into the register. She messed up twice before finally venturing, “Twenty-five?” I gave her my card, but right then an older—and friendlier—female employee said there wasn’t much soup left. She had poured the dregs of the box into a bowl and not quite managed to fill half. The two women caucused and devised this solution: The older woman brought the partially full bowl to my father.

“Sir, this was the last of it,” she said. “Will this be enough or would you like another kind?”

Will this be enough? He swallowed hard and said he’d take the vegetable.

Our sandwiches arrived—one by one. My “pita” was brought out first, my mother’s about seven minutes later and my father’s after we were halfway done. His soup arrived early though and, to his dismay, was still butternut squash. While he couldn’t say for sure, he suspected that some hot water had made up the difference; it was so watery, he drank it. Our sandwiches were equally bad. Some pre-prepared Greek mixed veggies were laid out on bread that was so old it broke apart in our hands. My dad’s Black Forest ham consisted of the same old bread, one thin slice of ham, a bit of cheese and no mustard or mayonnaise. Nor was he asked if he would like any. After our sandwiches came we were offered potato salad that, apparently, came with the meal. A nice surprise. Sadly, we quickly recognized the bought-in-bulk taste. Everything there seemed store-bought and, from the quality, bought a long time ago.

Now, I need to emphasize that this was one day and one experience. And there were other customers there buying the coffee, which was indeed good, I hasten to add. Maybe TRC should play to its strength and just stick to joe. In short, if you are in the area and want a good cup of coffee, this might be your spot. But if you are looking for a meal, I advise you to parp your car elsewhere.