I really do want to love Love Lane Kitchen. Seriously.

It’s a bustling little cafe on a great little street (Love Lane) in Mattituck. The menu balances local standards (lobster rolls) with things that are a bit of a surprise (pad thai and Cuban sandwiches). And, given the dire need for lunch options in wine country, I really really want to love the place.

But after our second visit, I can’t say that I do yet.

After a quiet 4th of July at the house, we decided to make the short drive out to the North Fork. We picked up our CSA share, visited Waters Crest Winery and headed down to Love Lane Kitchen for what we hoped would be a quick, satisfying lunch. Unfortunately, it was neither.

They were mobbed, which is good. It was a busy weekend out there, so I’d have been worried if it had been empty. But, they clearly weren’t staffed to handle the busy Saturday afternoon. More on that in a moment.

After a short wait, we were seated outside, which is always
preferred when Jackson is with us. He’s a well-behaved little dude, but
he does get a little loud at times. Sitting outside, that barely
matters if at all. Then we waited. And waited. Nena actually got up to
walk in and get menus for us (mainly because we wanted to get Jackson’s
order in) but someone finally dropped off some menus. Like I said, it
was really busy, so a little delay isn’t a big deal. It wasn’t a big
deal when it took longer than normal for someone to come take our
order. Nena used to be a server in a busy restaurant, she knows how it
goes. I was a busboy and then a cook in a busy chain back home, so I
know too.

Then it started to go down hill a bit.

First, when we asked if they could bring Jackson’s food out before
ours, because we had waited so long to order and he was well past his
normal lunch time, we were told "We’re so busy. I can’t do that." Busy
or not, I think getting a 17-month old his pancakes quickly should be a
request that is easily accommodated. But, they did bring his fruit out
quickly, so all was not lost.

Then, the runner gave Nena’s sandwich to another table and would
have given the rest of our food to yet another table if we hadn’t
stopped him.

I can overlook a lot of service-related transgressions if the food
is good. Unfortunately, a few things we had missed the mark. My Cuban
sandwich, which I enjoyed on our previous visit, was obviously rushed
out of the kitchen. It hadn’t been pressed and cooked very long. How
did I know? The cheese was not only not melted, it was still cold.
Jackson’s pancakes were good and we love and appreciate that they were
served real maple syrup, not flavored corn syrup. Nena liked her
replacement sandwich, a goat cheese panini, quite a bit. But my sister
in-law Kim’s shrimp salad sandwich was deemed bland and underwhelming.

And then the check came, and I saw how much they are charging ($10)
for a glass of Shinn Estate Vineyards’ Coalesence, a new white blend
that costs $15 per bottle at the winery just up the road. That’s a
pretty big mark up when you look at what other North Fork restaurants
are marking up local wines.

I do want to try Love Lane Kitchen for dinner sometime. I’ve had a
couple readers tell me about outstanding meals there. Like I said at
the start of this post, I really want to love the place. I just can’t