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Commander-in-Chief Helps Raise Charmington’s Profile

A “surprise” visit Thursday from President Barack Obama has helped put an employee-owned, Charm City café on the political map.  


Per a White House pool report, the First Belly rolled into town with Maryland Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski in tow and took the opportunity to chat up three local women about the administration’s paid sick-leave trial balloon. The “unannounced stop” fits the president’s MO of huddling with potential beneficiaries of proposed policy changes. The visit, which coincides with Senate Democrats’ strategy-building retreat, has turned all eyes toward the normally unassuming Charmington’s Cafe.  

Originally envisioned as a community hub, Charmington’s debuted in late 2010 and has steadily built up a reputation as a neighborhood go-to.  

The kitchen keeps things simple , dishing out breakfast goodies (pastries, bagels, yogurt), healthy greens (three types of house-made salads) and about a dozen sandwiches. Gourmet coffee supplements the early morning offerings.  

Early on, the Baltimore City Paper extolled the virtues of a roasted vegetable offering (“Rich yellow squash, crunchy red bell peppers, and sweet onions make magic with a generous dollop of feta and basil aioli on ciabatta,” writer Andrea Appleton gushed ) and specialty sweets (“It had the texture of a muffin and wasn’t too sweet, with a subtle tea undertone,” she said of a chai tea cake).  

Baltimore Sun dining critic Richard Gorelick later took the measure of the place by sinking his teeth into a summer staple.  

“Charmington’s builds a great BLT with thick bacon slices, very fresh vegetables and porous country white bread that soaks up the homemade garlic aioli,” he related. “For an extra dollar, Charmington’s will layer chunks of freshly chopped avocado into the sandwich.”  

Most recently, Baltimore Magazine gave the shop a tongue-in-cheek stamp of approval .  

(CQ Roll Call Photo Illustration)
(CQ Roll Call Photo Illustration)

“Too cool for your neighborhood chain coffee house? Go to Charmington’s for a cup of Counter Culture coffee and a great laid-back Remington vibe,” the editorial team suggested.  

A scan of Charmington’s current carte revealed an alarming dearth of Obama’s favorite snack (“Where’s the beef?”). Yet it sounds like the president found something worthwhile to nosh on.  

“The food was great. … I ate a little too much but that’s OK it was off camera,” the White House pool reporter said POTUS thanked his hosts on the way out.  

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