Ernst Turnier, Jr. serves up more than just a first rate sandwich at his eponymous Café Turnier. He invited me recently to drop by his month-old Norwalk restaurant to sample the food and his particular brand of hospitality. While we chatted, he greeted his customers by name and set to work doing what he does best, which is making food that makes people happy.
“It’s all about how you make the sandwich,” he explained to me. “I’m a big fan of bacon, but I hate it when the bacon falls out of the sandwich. You have to layer it, make sure the stuff sticks. Take the Joey’s Turkey Delight. I start with a lot of turkey, add in a little roast beef, some bacon in the middle, a little more turkey and a little more roast beef. The flavors mix together that way, so you’re not tasting just turkey or roast beef. You’re tasting Joey’s Turkey Delight. There’s no other name for it.”
Ernst is gregarious, with a wide smile and ready conversation. I suspect his charm is likely part of what keeps people coming back. He disagrees. “It’s all about the food!”
“Everything I’ve tasted is delicious,” says Libby, the woman at the table next to me. “The other day I had the Dad’s Breakfast Wrap. Amazing.” During this lunch though, Libby, a Norwalk letter carrier, was enjoying a Main Street Turkey Melt, a combination of Sausalito Turkey, Monterey jack cheese, tomato and mayo. “The secret to this sandwich is melting the cheese in the middle,” says Ernst. “It makes the sandwich.”
In addition to breakfast, lunch and coffee, Café Turnier also serves dinner. While I was there, I got a sneak preview of the evening’s pasta special, penne with a tomato, kielbasa, onion and green pepper sauce. The dish had a textured, homemade feel, and the green peppers were deliciously crisp.The secret ingredient? "Lots of TLC," Ernst says.
There’s no question Ernst has a real recipe for success on his hands, so I asked him if he has any plans to take his model to other area towns. “I’m an ambitious guy. And I don’t settle. I would definitely take this to the next level. I would love to expand.”
For now, though, you can visit Ernst at the original Café Turnier, located at 115 Main Street in Norwalk. When you drop in to have him make you one of his signature sandwiches, make sure you introduce yourself. He’ll be very happy to meet you.
You can find more information, including daily specials, on their Website or their .
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