Cafe's menu brightens busy intersection
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Veronica Hashey tended bar and served tables in some of Charleston's finest restaurants for 20 years before she switched her efforts to the other side of counter.
She opened 5 Corners Cafe in 2011, where she mans the kitchen preparing creative deli sandwiches, gourmet burgers, fresh salads, daily specials, soups and stuffed potatoes. Add a changing dinner special to the menu, and you have one of the few dine-in evening spots on Charleston's West Side.
5 Corners Cafe is located on the intersection of Central and Delaware avenues and Virginia Street West in the spot formerly occupied by Neighbor Mart. "This is something I've always wanted to do. We saw the space available, I decided to open here. We all live on the West Side," she said of her staff.
Your last name doesn't have to be Hashey to work at 5 Corners Cafe , but two of the four employees do bear that moniker. Her brother Frank Hashey cooks and father Mike Hashey shops, delivers and runs errands. Husband Mark Snodgrass helps when he's not deployed as a senior master sergeant with the West Virginia National Guard. He'll assume a place in the rotation soon, having just returned from Kuwait .
There's also the gregarious front man and baker Clifton Crow, who worked in many of the same restaurants as Hashey before he helped Hashey start up 5 Corners Cafe. They've worked at Laury's, Bridge Road Bistro, South Hills Market and Cafe, Chop House and Fazio's.
The fine dining atmosphere at most of those establishments differs from the cozy 28-seat dining room decorated with the oversized wooden fork and spoon set, tile trivets and mushroom motif emblematic of the 1970s. Meals are served on colorful vintage Melmac plastic plates.
"I always wanted to have a sandwich shop," Hashey said. "I like the hustle and bustle of the lunch crowd."
Crow greets the customers as they pick a place to sit, and then squats beside their tables to rattle off detailed descriptions of the daily specials or anything on the menu. "Today's special is a turkey cranberry croissant. We grill the croissant, then spread a blend of cream cheese, orange marmalade and pecans on it, top it with turkey, Swiss, lettuce, tomato and a cranberry spread," he quickly intones, then described the daily soup (gazpacho) and quiche option.
Other popular sandwiches include the Cornelia, homemade chicken salad on a croissant, Galley's Italian of salami, pepperoni and ham, banana peppers on a baked hoagie, The Jackson, hot corned beef and pastrami on toasted rye and Grace's Grilled Cheese Caprese, a three-cheese version topped with fresh basil, tomato slices and a balsamic drizzle. Sandwich prices range from $5 to $7.
"It wouldn't be enough for me to serve ham and cheese sandwiches," Hassey said of her creative menu. "We spend a lot of time with our noses in 'Gourmet' and 'Bon Appetite.' We play ideas off each other."
The one-third pound Angus burgers are offered with the expected toppings as well as a smoked gouda cheese, caramelized onion and horseradish mayonnaise version or pimento cheeseburger. Hassey roasts the dry rubbed pork she uses for pulled pork barbecue for 12 hours. Chicken and tuna salads are made daily.
No foods are fried at 5 Corners Cafe. They serve pickles with sandwiches and burgers, or customers may order potato salad, coleslaw, chips or Hassey's own spicy sweet macaroni salad. "I like spicy foods," she said.
The rotating dinner specials might feature made-from-scratch chicken pot pie, rib-eye stroganoff or lasagna all served with homemade yeast rolls. Dinners range from $11 to $17 on Fridays when they serve steak dinners.
Hassey learned to cook professionally at 19 when she cooked tableside at Laury's, her first job. "I've been watching chefs do their thing for a long time. I can usually taste a item and make it myself," she said.
About 60 people a day dine or take food out at 5 Corners Cafe. Several much-appreciated regulars dine in two or three times a week, while others make a point to stop by for their favorites when they're in town.
Hassey makes all her salad dressings from scratch including a tangy French topped with bleu cheese, a dressing she perfected after customers requested the distinctive flavors that once topped salads at an old Charleston favorite, the former Sterling Restaurant. Hassey never dined there, but former Sterling customers tell her she got it right.
The restaurant is open weekdays for lunch and until 7 p.m. for dinner Wednesdays through Fridays and closed on Saturday and Sunday. It's also available for private parties after hours.
"We're closed on the weekends so we can have some family time," Crow said in reference to family members who don't work at the restaurant. He visits with his parents, including his mother, Barbara Boggess, who taught him to cook. He honed his baking skills that satisfy his own sweet tooth at her side. He bakes his favorite cake, a chocolate butter cream iced chocolate cake, from her recipe.
The dessert menu changes, according to what's in season and what Crow's in the mood to make. He stretches out the dough and liberally sprinkles it with cinnamon sugar and sometimes chocolate chips for his oversized cinnamon rolls, which he often reincarnates as chocolate chip bread pudding with cream cheese filling the next day.
5 Corners Cafe, 423 Virginia St. W., is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. Closed on weekends. Call 304-205-7817. Delivery available for a $3 flat charge, regardless of the order's size.
Reach Julie Robinson at email@example.com or 304-348-1230.