There are no TVs. There’s no bar, no band, no dance floor, no video games, and no kitschy artifacts. There’s only one reason to go. Yet the singular focus of the Slice of Life Cafe does not, in any way, limit its appeal. There’s a lot to love about this compact year-round eatery, and it’s all about the food. Traditional favorites punctuated by creative variations have held a rapt audience for more than seven years and all signs point to a long running show.
When the Slice of Life Cafe first opened in August of 2003, its objective was to be a gourmet takeout deli and market with a few tables. But the owners and staff quickly responded to the demands of eager patrons, who, in this case, waited half the summer for their late opening. Merchandise displays were replaced by tables, wait-service superseded counter orders, and the cafe established its place in the community. Five years later, when original owners, Mary and Jackson Kenworth sought to sell the business to pursue a new opportunity, there was no question who their successor would be.
Pete Smyth had been at the Slice since its inception, bringing with him a wealth of experience and a broad range of culinary expertise. Like the passing on of a family business, he and his wife, Jennifer, took over without skipping a beat. Things look and taste much as they always did, which is great news to anyone who has ever eaten here.
Breakfast begins at 8 am. You might think eggs are eggs, but what I love about Slice’s signature scrambles is the abundance of ingredients that are fearlessly blended in. The accompanying scallion-garlic potato pancake, with its irresistible mashed potato appeal, will make you forget you ever cared about home fries.
If you’re tired of the usual morning suspects, Slice has some suggestions. The breakfast pizza starts with a house-made pizza crust filled with eggs, bacon, cheese, and a variety of toppings. The breakfast panini is scrambled eggs with bacon, cheddar, and tomatoes, pressed into a whole wheat tortilla. Both specialties are complemented by a side of fresh fruit.
Former pastry chef, Gates Rickard, left the Slice to open Rickard’s Bakery with his wife and partner, Kate. But he continues to provide the cafe with beautifully crafted sandwich breads. The slightly sweet and aromatic rosemary bread is the foundation for Slice’s fried green tomato BLT — breaded and fried green tomatoes, arugula, applewood-smoked bacon, and basil mayo. The bakery also contributes some sweets, such as the pain au chocolate and the apple-filled puff pastry pop-tarts. Other desserts, like crème br%u0217lée and chocolate coconut bread pudding, are courtesy of chef/owner Pete Smyth. Mr. Smyth also created (and named for his daughter) the wickedly addictive Shealyn’s Bar: house-made granola, almonds, coconut, chocolate, and dried cranberries.
Lunch is Slice’s most talked-about meal, and for good reason. The Asian salmon salad with blanched green beans, sautéed shiitake mushroom, mixed greens, scallions, and seared salmon, dressed in soy vinaigrette, and topped with potato crisps has been causing a stir for years. The 8-ounce Angus beef burger with all the fixings, and the 7-ounce sirloin steak sandwich with caramelized onions and horseradish cream, stuffed into a soft, chewy ciabatta roll will satisfy the most voracious appetites. The vegetarian sandwich — broccoli, roasted onions, roasted tomatoes, parmesan bread crumbs and olive tapenade on rosemary bread — is a magnificent change from the obligatory red pepper-dominated veggie sandwiches that grace so many menus.
Beginning at 5 pm, the menu is supplemented by specials that are hearty and wholesome, with a touch of sophistication. Grilled tuna served over coconut rice with julienned onions, carrots and zucchini, drizzled with chili and basil oils is a delectable bargain at $23.
Heartwarming and palate pleasing, the oven-roasted half chicken with mashed potatoes, vegetables and natural jus is $20.
Slice of Life is located at 50 Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs. For online menus and daily specials, visit sliceoflifemv.com.