Family-style café popular among locals


Devoted fans of Karen’s Café, formerly located at the closed Mr. Paperback, have already heard the news.

Now it’s time for the rest of Ellsworth breakfast and lunchtime eaters to find out about Karen’s Café, which reopened Oct. 7 behind another bookstore, Union River Book & Toy Co. on Main Street.
Union River Book & Toy Co. owner Michael Curtis contacted Karen Cimeno about resurrecting her café at his place.

“He’s been wanting a café in here,” said Karen, who had been working at John Edwards Market. She says the first few weeks have been successful. “He’s been busier, I’ve been busier.”

Customers can enter through Union River Book & Toy or from an alleyway door that is near Camden National Bank.

As far as the menu is concerned, Cimeno decided she didn’t want to mess with success. The offerings are just as they were at the Maine Coast Mall.

The café serves sandwiches, wraps, bagels, soups and salads. There are plenty of baked goods, muffins, cookies and bars, to name a few.

Whether it’s soup or sandwiches, Karen’s Café is a haven tucked away from the crowds at Union River Book & Toy Co.

Whether it’s soup or sandwiches, Karen’s Café is a haven tucked away from the crowds at Union River Book & Toy Co.

“What’s really selling the most is the chicken pesto and it’s really simple,” Cimeno said. The pesto sandwich has grilled chicken, basil pesto and provolone cheese on sourdough grilled bread.

Another local favorite is The Ellsworth, turkey, red onion, tomato and dill havarti served warm on a toasted bagel with sprouts, Dijon mustard and mayonnaise.

Or you can have Cimeno make a sandwich just as you like it.

If you have a child in tow, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches and hot dogs are available.

Breakfast includes sandwiches, such as the Egg McCafe, egg, cheese and meat on a toasted English muffin or a breakfast burrito or homemade quiche or bagel and lox or hot ham and cheese croissant.

Baked goods and desserts are a specialty at Karen’s café. PHOTO BY JENNIFER OSBORN

Baked goods and desserts are a specialty at Karen’s café.

Cimeno is a 2010 winner of the Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce’s Chowderfest. That seafood chowder is again available by the cup or the bowl.

Cimeno has been working in restaurants her whole life, so she really couldn’t stay away.

“I’m Italian,” she said. “We were always in the kitchen.”

Her two grandmothers taught her to cook as a child. Her family always owned restaurants where she worked, doing everything from bussing tables to cooking.

And Cimeno still cooks when she goes home at night.

“The kitchen’s my zone,” she said. “I only sit to eat and go to bed.”

Before moving to Maine 12 years ago, Cimeno owned a seasonal restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard called Karen’s Menemsha Deli.

Broccoli Soup with Corn Kernels and Mushrooms

  • One onion, finely chopped
  • Three cloves garlic, chopped
  • One head broccoli, divided into small florets
  • 7 oz. button mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
  • 10 oz. can corn kernels, drained
  • 3¼ cups vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. dill weed
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat two Tbsp. butter in saute pan and cook onion and garlic until translucent. Add mushrooms and broccoli, saute together. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Blend together 1 Tbsp. butter and flour to form a paste. Stir the paste into the soup. Add cream and corn to soup and bring to boil briefly.

Season with parsley, dill and salt and pepper.

News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at josborn@ellsworthamerican.com or call 667-2576.