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by Bob Mariani

Café Four
by Bob Mariani

Out to Lunch
Café Four 12
412 Douglas Avenue

Ever had a Flat Tire on Smith Hill? How about a Tofu Stallion or an Albacore Press? If not, you probably haven’t yet discovered Dan Alasha’s breakfast/lunch/dinner gourmet sandwich eatery. It’s called The Four 12. You know, because that’s like… its address.

In what was once an old, non-descript two-story brick building on Douglas Avenue near Providence College, Alasha has created a charming pub-like atmosphere (sans the booze) where you can enjoy some of his original sandwich creations. The place and the menu reminded an old-timer like myself of the original Joe’s on Benefit Street back in the late ‘60’s. A fun place for slightly whacky sandwich combos geared toward the neighborhood college kids.

My friend, Kenny, and I stopped in for lunch the other day and shared a Knight Ham sandwich and a Turkey Chutney. On the former, the maple-cured ham was paired with fresh, steamed spinach and some mild, melted Monterey Jack Cheese. We ordered it on seeded rye bread. It was an ample portion, no question, but it wasn’t one of those bulky, overpowering sandwiches that makes you feel full just looking at it. It was neat, compact, and delicious.

Our second sandwich was the Turkey Chutney, another interesting combo of thinly sliced turkey breast and Danish Havarti cheese, sweetened by mango chutney. The whole affair was pressed and melted to perfection for a salty-sweet flavor that’s hard to beat for a lunch time treat.

Other Four 12 concoctions I’d return for are: the Turkey Othello ($6.50), cracked pepper turkey, sharp provolone, romaine lettuce with a dash of minced parsley, vine-ripened tomatoes, and honey mustard; The Tofu Stallion ($7), plump tofu seasoned with horseradish on a bed of mesclun greens and tomatoes and sweet red onions; The Four Twelve Reuben ($6.50) with sun-dried tomato/rosemary ham and sauerkraut seasoned with Russian dressing on a seeded rye roll or foccocia bread.

For desserts, there are more "sandwiches," only with the kind of after-school-snack ingredients that cater to our sweetness cravings. We sampled the PB and Apricots, a creamy smear of smooth peanut butter on cinnamon-raisin bread topped with apricot halves drizzled with honey and sprinkled with raisins and walnuts; and the Sugared and Glazed, a couple of sliced bananas glazed with brown sugar and vanilla over chunky peanut butter and sugared pecans on cinnamon-raisin bread. If that doesn’t kick your sweetness quotient up a few notches, I don’t know what will.

Alasha also does breakfast sandwiches like the Vegg on Vegg ($3), a veggie bagel with cream cheese, spinach and tomatoes; or the That’s It! ($3), cucumbers and hummus in a pita wrap; and omelets like Traffic ($5), that combines Swiss, Muenster, Monterey Jack cheeses on your choice of breads or bagels.

There are all kinds of creative conglomerations at Four 12, and like the old Joe’s on Benefit (now Geoff’s), they’ve got clever names to go with them.

Take-out is another option. Or for free delivery with a minimum order of $20, you can call them at 270-CAFÉ. Four 12’s summer hours are: Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 8pm and on weekends from 8:30am to 8pm.

Bob Mariani is a Southeastern New England freelance author. Besides his "Out to Lunch" and "Your Table is Ready" restaurant reviews on, he also writes jazz articles on

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