The word “speakeasy” is a Prohibition-era term referring to a place where alcohol is served illegally, but at 501 Speakeasy, a new restaurant in downtown Roanoke, it is meant to encourage people to gather and talk in a comfortable environment. This restaurant/coffee shop, which opened in June at the corner of Campbell Avenue and Fifth Street , serves breakfast, tapas (small plates), salads, and sandwiches accompanied by a full service espresso bar, Virginia craft beers, live music and local art.
When I joined friends there recently for Sunday brunch , we were lucky to get the last open table. The restaurant is a small space with a handful of tables, as well as a bar with classic chrome diner-style stools. There’s also a couch and coffee table with magazines and board games — a great place to enjoy coffee or a beer.
Our efficient, friendly server got us started with water, hot chocolate ($2.50), and excellent cappuccinos ($2.75). One friend chose the apple pie French toast brunch special , which arrived topped with syrup, a generous amount of sauteed fresh apples and a dollop of whipped cream. We all took a taste and gave it a big thumbs up. The rest of us chose egg dishes, which were not as successful. In the omelette ($5.95), the egg and cheese croissant ($4.75) and the classic breakfast combo (eggs, toast and bacon, $5.50), the eggs were browned , tough and bland. The bacon was tasty and the omelette fillings were generous, but the eggs were unappealing enough that none of us finished our meal.
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