Just when you thought New Albany couldn’t possibly fit any more good restaurants in its downtown, another one pops up.
Roadrunner Kitchen, which Insider reported on earlier this year, now joins a Main Street lineup that includes places like Gospel Bird, Big Four Burgers + Beer, The Exchange Pub + Kitchen, Floyd County Brewing Co., Café 157 and more, with spots like Brooklyn & the Butcher and Hull & High Water just steps away.
Roadrunner is a different type of place, though, as it focuses on lunch, with plenty of “grab and go” options like wraps and salads, all packaged up, sitting in a cooler and waiting for hungry people to scoop them up on the run.
But the menu is halfway filled with made-to-order hot options as well, and the cozy space is a fine place to sit and have a casual lunch, with hardwood floors and exposed brick providing a cool vibe, and mosaic-tile-topped café tables offering a view of Main Street.
I stopped in recently for lunch and was unsure what I wanted other than to try one of Roadrunner Kitchen’s signature soups, curried lentil soup (the other mainstay is tomato basil).
I was tipped off by co-owner Sarah Hastings that one of the best-sellers is the chicken panini on the made-to-order menu, so I went with that over options like the Mediterranean tuna melt and the chicken pesto wrap. The day’s special, a blue cheese and steak wrap, also sounded tempting.
I also ordered the house-made lemonade to wash down my lunch with, and that was yet another good decision — it was sweetened just right, perfectly tart, and a refreshing companion to my food, not to mention more healthful than a standard mass-produced soft drink. (There’s also a lavender version of the lemonade.)
My food arrived in a wicker basket, the sandwich resting in aluminum foil and the soup in a cardboard cup made with recyclable materials — one of the staples of Roadrunner Kitchen is sustainability, reflected in the house-made everything and local sourcing of ingredients.
The lentil soup was thick and chunky, with plenty of pepper and a delicious curry flavor that not only stood out but added some lingering kick, much to my delight.
The soup was hearty to the point that it would make a reasonable enough stand-alone lunch, and the portion was more generous than I expected for the $3.25 price tag. Hey, and lentils are a low-calorie, high-protein proposition, which drives home the point of Roadrunner Kitchen.
Just when I thought I’d registered a base hit with the soup, I swung for the fences with the sandwich. It wasn’t pressed like typical paninis, and it actually more closely resembled a glorified grilled cheese sandwich, evenly toasted on thick, sliced bread.
But the good stuff was on the inside: thick slices of roasted chicken, big chunks of tomato, gooey mozzarella cheese, and plenty of house-made garlic aioli. With the first bite, I was hooked. The aioli added a pleasant flavor — subtle garlic, but present — and creamy texture to a sandwich that honestly probably would have been quite good without it.
The chicken tasted fresh, the tomatoes were bright red and looked hand-cut, and the cheese brought it all together with a mild flavor that balanced the aioli just enough. All in all, a good deal for $6.75, and the entire meal also was something I felt good about paying for and putting into my body — which is kind of the point of the place.
It’s sort of the anti-fast food, even though you can get in and out pretty quickly if you need to. The only thing missing is a drive-thru window.
Roadrunner Kitchen prepares plenty of vegetarian and vegan options and also offers homemade desserts, from cinnamon rolls to cookies and pies, and on the day I was in, a delicious looking chocolate cake under glass greeted customers as soon as they walked in the door. My lunch had filled me up past the point of dessert consideration.
Roadrunner Kitchen, located at 145 E. Main St. in New Albany, is open weekdays, 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.