6080 Falls Road
Mount Washington hasn’t been a real blue-collar neighborhood in a long time, if it ever was. But there have always been institutions that felt very in touch with down-to-earth working-class folks, such as the Curb Shoppe, the excellent, divey alternative to the Mount Washington Tavern, and Pepe’s, the cramped breakfast-and-pizza place that’s been around forever. Banksy’s Cafe, which occupied the corner space of Lake Falls Village shopping center—home to the awesome Ivy Bookshop—was another such place, offering decent sandwiches and soups with bags of chips and a nice patio to eat them on. But Banksy’s closed and the Corner Pantry replaced it earlier this year and took the space in the direction of Whole Foods, the same way much of the neighborhood has gone. Make no mistake: There is a major upside to this direction. The folks at the Corner Pantry could not be friendlier—a noted upgrade from Banksy’s, known for its servers’ surliness—and gave us a thorough tour of the goods on offer, including both sweet and savory baked goods, gluten-free muesli, the self-serve “cold counter” (aka salad bar), and the sarnies (“British for Sandwich,” per the menu). We opted for a sausage roll, served warm, which was hearty with a surprising kick. The cold counter typically only offers five items, which are chosen day-to-day, but all seem to be carefully considered. Among the dishes on offer on a recent visit were a cold salmon fillet, an asparagus salad, and basmati rice, which combined for a flavorful, if pricey, meal: At $10.99 per pound, Corner Pantry actually raises the stakes on Whole Foods, where the luxe salad bar is $8.99 a pound. It seems the Whole Foods-ification of Mount Washington is unstoppable: Even Pepe’s recently completed a renovation that included the addition one of those fancy-schmancy soda machines where you can mix 27 flavors of Coke. If you can’t beat ’em, pony up and join ’em. Or go to Hampden.