LEANDRA'S 1016 S. Charles St. Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays to Fridays; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays. (410) 837-0130. Ever notice how freshness is next to godliness? Vegetables and fruit, of course, taste their very best the closer to picking that you get your teeth into them. And sandwiches and salads can go from simple to sublime when the slicing and dicing occur after you've ordered one.
LeAndra's (subtitled: Creative Catering & Carry Away) is one of those tiny Federal Hill storefronts that seem several steps closer to freshness than other eateries. (Could it be their proximity, geographically or at least psychologically, to the Cross Street Market?)
Bread baked daily -- sourdough, croissants, seven-grain, French rolls, boules and baguettes -- can be carried away whole or as end pieces for sandwiches. We tried roast turkey, freshly (of course!) sliced before our eyes and piled high on a sourdough roll ($5.50) -- just right for an alfresco summer lunch.
Other sandwiches include dill havarti with carrot and cucumber, Italian hoagie, roast beef, baked ham and salads made of tuna, shrimp and herbed chicken. LeAndra's gets creative with the details as well -- no garden variety yellow mustard here, rather, sandwiches get treatments like herbed mayonnaise, honey mustard and ligonberries.
We also had spinach quiche ($4.25) -- deep-dish and cheesy in a flaky crust -- and a tossed salad with four slices of French bread ($2.75), another good picnic pick. The salad was made on the spot with a good (read: non-iceberg) kind of lettuce, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and freshly grated carrots. Maybe LeAndra's will carry the fresh-fetish into salad dressing someday -- the packaged envelope was fairly prosaic -- but the salad was a tasty affair nonetheless.
LeAndra's refrigerated case also offers up fruit salad and other prepared dishes -- we spied sesame noodles the day we dropped in. Baked goods also merit mention: scones, muffins, pound cake, shortbread, brownies, blondies and a densely sinful chocolate raspberry cake. Freshly baked, no doubt.