Our dining scene may be booming of late, but in some parts of the city, you can hardly find a sandwich or a decent cup of joe. Herron-Morton residents so craved anything approaching an indie restaurant that when the neighborhood association purchased the old Herron School of Arts metal shop, the group mandated that anyone buying the building would have to put in a coffeehouse. When sibling Realtors Mark and Josh Nottingham took that challenge and opened their darling little cafe at the corner of Alabama and 16th streets in late March, the lines of local folk curled out onto the sidewalk. Finally, a place of their own.
While the Nottinghams named their eatery Foundry Provisions as an homage to the address’s former function, the brothers took pains to make the place look little like the long-dormant storefront it had been. From the tomato soup–red brick exterior to the landscaped patio, the cafe has brightened a once-blighted block.
Its ingredients are local, too. The breads come from Amelia’s Bakery, pastries from Circle City Sweets, and chips from City Market’s Amazing Potato Chip Company. The Nottinghams even sourced familiar Goose the Market smiling face Kimmie Burton, who provides some experience and polish among the generally youthful staff.
At times the offerings seem almost too barebones, though, even when the components are right. Pressed house sandwiches include the Harrison, with Smoking Goose city ham and Swiss cheese, but avocado and field greens spoil the panini feng shui. Higher on the flavor quotient—and more gooey and coherent—is the Morton, with mortadella, tangy artichoke hearts, provolone, mayo, and a restrained hint of Sriracha. Daily soups from Circle City Soups—an earthy mushroom, a tomato-basil with a slightly raw aftertaste—could use a bit of dolling up. A housemade crouton, perhaps? Some chopped herbs or a drizzle of creme fraiche?
But cinnamon-sugar toast from a sliced Pullman loaf comforts perfectly alongside one of the cheapest bottomless cups of coffee in the city or a mug of tea from nearby Tea’s Me; skillfuly brewed drinks such as a light and frothy Americano or a Chemex filtered coffee show the same attention to detail as the decor. One hopes that with time the place will intuit some of the creative energy of the site’s former art school, adding some flourishes to the culinary offerings. For now, it is a welcoming space to sit a spell, grab a sandwich, or meet a neighbor—the basic functions of any restaurant, whether the options are many or few.
Photos by Tony Valainis
This article appeared in the July 2013 issue.