March 28, 2013

Eat and Run: Clayton's Cafe, Yarmouth

Friendly staff and fresh, flavorful fare make the cafe a must.

From staff reports

Back in the '90s, I'd pop into Clayton's Cafe in Yarmouth every so often when I was working close by at a video/record store. In the 2000s, I hit it for lunch on occasion while I was working on the Pineland campus.

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The Cobb Wrap at Clayton's

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A canoe hangs above the cozy dining area at Clayton’s Cafe in Yarmouth.

Photos by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer


WHERE: 447 U.S. Route 1, Yarmouth 846-1117;

HOURS: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

CHEAPEST GRUB: Egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, $3.95

WAIT: Five to 10 minutes

PARKING: Off-street


RATING: ★★★★

Based on a five-star rating

These days, I don't get up that way as often. But after a recent trip for the purpose of this review, I was reminded of why it does such a booming business and is nothing less than a revered institution in the minds of many.

Not only does Clayton's offer a glorious array of gourmet sandwiches and soups, it has a wide array of take-home dinners such as chicken empanadas, and spinach and wild mushroom lasagna.

And if you have a sweet tooth the size of Texas like I do, look no further. Clayton's has a daily selection of fresh-baked muffins, scones and other tempting treats, plus an impressive penny candy section. This proved to me that sometimes, you can indeed go home again.

The funny thing is, however, I was not a fan of the giant M&M cookie that I bought. More on that in a minute, because I have plenty of praise to lavish on my lunch selection.

Sandwiches are Clayton's strong suit. The panini menu includes ratatouille ($6.75), black forest ham and brie ($7.25) and a Cuban ($7.50). The thought of any of them pressed on Borealis sourdough or organic whole-wheat sourdough was a mouth-watering proposal.

But it wasn't quite what I was in the mood for, so my eyes next fell upon the list of cafe sandwiches ($6.95 to $7.25). Offerings include oven-roasted turkey breast, curried chicken salad, albacore tuna salad and a handful of others. I took a good long look at this list, but I still hadn't found what I was looking for.

My "a-ha" moment came when my eyes landed on the list of wraps. Truth be told, I have yet to firmly latch onto the wrap movement that's been going on for 20 years, but I saw something I couldn't refuse. It had me at the word "bacon" and wooed me even further with promises of guacamole and Danish blue cheese.

About 10 minutes and $6.75 later, I was the proud owner of a Clayton's Cobb Wrap on a whole wheat tortilla. The dining room had a Grand Central Station-like buzz to it -- a testament to Clayton's popularity -- so I took my show on the road.

I noshed my way down Route 1 South, grinning all the way. Sliced hard-boiled egg, grilled bacon, guacamole, blue cheese, red onion, cucumbers, lettuce and balsamic vinaigrette (I had them hold the usually included tomatoes) made merry music in my mouth. Each bite offered a different combination of the aforementioned ingredients. It was a satisfying feast that was just the right amount.

Other wraps on the Clayton's menu include a Greek, veggie, and a cheese and veggies, but I can't imagine anything topping the Cobb.

Now let's talk about the cookie. Let me first say, I've had my fair share of sweets from Clayton's, and the experience has always been a positively perfect, sinful one. However, it's my duty to suggest options other than the giant M&M cookie. It was very dry and crumbly, and didn't offer any redeeming flavor.

But don't let one less-than-delicious cookie sway you. Clayton's is a fabulous establishment with friendly staff and plenty of seating. Most importantly, it has a deliciously reliable menu of freshly made breakfast and lunch options, terrific looking take-home dinner items and a bakery to beat the band.

The staff of GO anonymously samples meals for about $10.


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