Big changes are in the works for Café Lachine, a popular gourmet bistro and bakery. After six years in its Nags Head location, owner Johanna Lachine will pack up and move to Wanchese in mid-September.
Beach-dwelling fans of its creative dishes including crab cake Benedict and stuffed French toast, or its brioche and macarons, will have to endure a short hiatus until the targeted mid-October reopening in Wanchese.
The restaurant’s owner has decided to simultaneously change its moniker from her last name to her first, christening the new digs as “Johanna’s.” She and husband Justin Lachine, both culinary school grads, knew they wanted to strike out on their own after working together at other venues.Justin now operates a food truck, often in Manteo, named Lachine’s Mobile Cuisine.
Lachine is eager to move out of the Nags Head location the brick-and-mortar business has outgrown. “It feels like the right time to make a change. It’s going to be good — it won’t take long for our customers to get used to us being in a different place,” she says.
The new location will be 5,000 square feet, while the current location is 1,500 square feet The additional space will allow the restaurant to better serve its significant catering business which now has to be done out of a separate commissary facility because the Nags Head location is too small to support that line of business. The large dining room in Wanchese can be partitioned to provide private spaces — one with a fireplace — for scheduled events and parties, in addition to accommodating café customers.
Lachine expects to tune and expand her menu over time in the new location. Initially, Johanna’s will serve many items that have become favorites over the years such as the poached pear salad with greens, candied local pecans, blue cheese crumbles and burgundy-poached pears.
But for the moment Café Lachine and its friendly staff are still dishing out the familiar favorites. For brunch, popular items include eggs Benedict, a pair of poached eggs, Black Forest ham and hollandaise sauce on house-made brioche, and stuffed French toast, also made with brioche but with a filling of orange mascarpone and a side or real maple syrup. The Benedict is optionally available with a crab cake or fried green tomato in place of the ham.
Other brunch items such as a massive chicken, cheddar and bacon biscuit, biscuits and sausage gravy, and fresh shrimp and grits with sausage are also offered. All brunch items are served until 3 p.m.
For lunch, the creamy crab soup is a big hit, and other soups are offered as a daily special. A “lunch box” comes with a select half sandwich, a cup of soup, side salad, mini dessert and bottled water. Five cold sandwiches and four hot sandwiches are on the menu, not all available on the lunch box combo. My cold favorites are the chicken salad sandwich with spiced pecans, grapes and fresh basil, and on the hot side is the fresh shrimp po’ boy hoagie. The Applewood BLT and the fried green tomato BLT are noteworthy, too.