Rainer's Café (Downtown Greenville)
Published May 11 2017
Hours of Operation: M-W 11A-6P, Th-Sa 11A-2A
Location: 610-A S. Main St.
Menu items consumed: Grilled [Pimento] Cheese, Turkey Brie Croissant, Irmgard’s Reuben, Mediterranean Pasta, Broccoli Salad, Red Velvet Cake, Lemon Cake, Sweet Potato Cake, Cappuccino
Rainer’s Café: Downtown GVegas, cool, hip, fresh, and delicious. Rainer’s has what you want in good café food, running the gamut of fresh salads, savory sandwiches, local desserts (all per the claims found on the street-side storefront...most of which I can attest are actually true) along with the great/homemade sides!
When I initially arrived here I was the first of my party of 3 (awaiting the arrival of my bro and mo [that’s abbreviated hip language for “mother”…in case you weren’t hip enough to understand that without explanation]). The staff was pretty friendly when I arrived in a setting that reflected what I would think of a European café being like: long, narrow building with an interior surrounded by knick-knacks, books, and the smell of fresh fare. When I sat the server quickly attended to me…though her getting our waters was the only time I saw her as someone else ended-up actually serving us (someone who both seemed and commented on how overly busy she was). The only saving grace the otherwise-lacking service had here was when the server shared (perhaps a bit too much?) about how rough her day was physically on her body as she made the mistake of discovering how young she no longer is by going to a trampoline park with her kids the night prior; at least we knew she had some personality and humanity about her because prior to (and immediately after) these comments her service skills and personality both were subpar (if only this bit of personality would have improved her service); seeing as how this bit of humanness was flashed by her after we received our entrees and we had a HIGHLY elongated pause between when we concluded our entrees/ordered desserts and when we actually received desserts? Yeah, the service piece was NOT why I would return (or ever rave about this joint to others). The good news? There is a reason to revisit: the FOOD!
Yes, I did try ALL of the "Menu items consumed" above and, yes, I did ONLY HAVE A BITE of the majority of them (tired of people judging me for my fatty-ways...LET A TUBBO BE!!!). Between my mother, brother, and I, we ordered 2 different sides and 3 different sandwiches. I went with the server suggestion as one of her favorite/their most popular sandwiches: Grilled Pimento Cheese. I’m Southern so I enjoy pimento cheese; I’m a small child so I enjoy grilled cheese – why the heck NOT marry the 2 in a café setting?!?! When I took a bite I was highly surprised [and pleasantly so] with both how delicious and seemingly how sophisticated the execution of it was; don’t get me wrong here, there wasn’t a lot of flare to the presentation as far as appearance but the presentation of flavor was awesome. The sandwich was on top-notch whole wheat bread that was real-deal-delicious. My (and my brother’s) entrees were accompanied by the pasta salad, a pasta salad that was clearly homemade and deliciously composed of GREAT dressing, perfectly al dente pasta, and some feta that was spectacular, too. My mother went with the Broccoli Salad, a choice that is VERY “her” considering it is a dish that has been around her family for YEARS (and something she makes for seemingly every large family shindig we do have); I don’t know if she was happy she ordered it because of how INCREDIBLY delicious it was or perhaps jealous hers couldn’t be quite that exquisite (it’s okay, Mom, yours is ALSO delicious…and I still love you regardless). My brother’s sandwich was, if I do recall correctly, Irmgard’s Reuben. What he did NOT like about the sandwich was the fact they tried to get a bit cutesy with it and replace Thousand Island dressing with a mustard dressing; now, mind you, while I am VERY much about culinary creativity and thought it was pretty good, my brother ordered a Reuben because, ya know, he wanted a REUBEN. Unfortunately if that’s what you’re trying to order this isn’t it; the good news is if you’re looking to try something new and want to break from the chains of the rudimentary and oft-similarly-done-everywhere-you-order-it Reuben this is a place to try it. My mother's sandwich reminded me much of "The Bex" found at Bex Café: a croissant sandwich with fresh deli meat, cranberry and freshly sliced apples, but with brie on this one (a combination of flavor and freshness for which I could only say "thank you"). Regardless the quality and freshness of all that we consumed could not be argued with prices that would reflect about what you would expect from a Downtown Greenville café (certainly not cheap but undoubtedly not overly cumbersome).
All-in-all Rainer’s is a cool joint with some REALLY good food. If you have more than 2 people, though, ensure you get there early for lunch as our 12:30 rendezvous time allowed me to grab the last table available with seating for more than 2. If you’re looking for GREAT service…well, you may be hard-pressed to find it at any café like this (especially, and as unfortunate as it seems, Downtown) as so often there is not enough staff for the traffic flow to supply what is required to make such service great, however it wasn’t rude and our server [when she didn’t feel overwhelmed] did try to engage us. However if you’re going for the food, don’t ask questions but instead just get there. Rainer shine (HA!), this Café is a delicious one to try.