IN THE KITCHEN Kate Ross knows interior décor, having run Dean Ross Home, a store in Marion Village that sells home goods and provides design consulting. She also knows cooking; the home chef is passionate about creating food experiences for friends, joking that she often exhorts them to “stay on the other side of the kitchen” as she cooks.
Now she’s combined both, converting a space at the back of her store into Kate’s Simple Eats, a cafe open just for lunch that serves sandwiches, soups, and salads. There’s coffee and muffins if you stop in earlier. “You’re welcome to hang out with us,” the website says, “but we’re not cooking you eggs.”
“I developed the menu,” said Ross, who had never cooked for the public before opening Kate’s. “I love to feed people.”
She never dreamed about running a restaurant, she said, but wanted to do something for the small town she calls home.
“A lot of people make day trips here and ask where to eat,” she said. “There aren’t a lot of places, so I wanted to make the village a destination. I was looking more at the bigger picture.”
THE LOCALE The small restaurant reflects its owner’s easy-going manner, with the sign out front playfully admonishing customers to “Get in Here!” Inside, the renovated space is open and airy, with barn-board walls and wide-plank floors. There is a four-stool counter space, behind which is the small food preparation area, and tables throughout, with seating for about 20. For warm-weather dining, there’s a small patio outside.
Clientele is decidedly local, with many staffers and students from nearby Tabor Academy dropping by for lunch. French doors leading to the patio and large windows flood the interior with natural light. There is a nautical nod to the seaside community’s heritage in the unisex bathroom, where vintage coastal maps are veneered to the walls. And above the ordering area is a large overhang bearing evidence of Marion’s seafaring past, with an expression about a long-ago sailing superstition of tattooing a pig and rooster on one’s feet as protection against drowning at sea.
ON THE MENU Offerings are simple but tasty, utilizing seasonal local produce and fare from an upscale specialty-food provider, Sid Wainer & Son in New Bedford.
For lunch, I was influenced by that sailing superstition and ordered the Pig & the Rooster ($10.25, including an extra $1 for gluten-free bread), a delicious mix of thinly sliced smoked ham, chicken, cheddar cheese with lettuce, red onion, and mustard sauce.
Sandwiches, hot and cold, run from $6.25 for the grilled Havarti cheese with spinach to $8.75 for turkey with homemade stuffing and gravy. Popular varieties include the eggplant Parm Sammie ($8.50), with panko-encrusted eggplant, and pulled BBQ pork wrap ($8.75), with smoky and sweet pork, sour cream, and shredded cheese. Bread comes from Pan D’Avignon in Hyannis.
Soups change daily; the Thai chicken curry soup (cup, $4.50) was wonderfully spicy, enough to provide a warming kick.
No alcohol is served, though Ross may eventually seek a beer and wine license. Drinks from the cooler include hand-crafted Boylan Bottling soda, Mash sparkling fruit drinks, and a most interesting organic Reed’s Culture Club Kombucha Goji Ginger, made with fermented tea and fresh ginger root. Coffee is from Pierce Brothers in Western Massachusetts, a fair trade and organic coffee provider, Ross said.
“I’ll probably experiment, and maybe stay open longer in summer when the boating crowd is here,” she said. “But for now, I want to walk before I run.”
Kate’s Simple Eats, 148 Front St., Marion; 508-748-0042; www.katessimpleeats.com.