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Fresh ingredients are what it’s all about at Russo’s Haven Coffee Bistro Cafe in Banning

By in Press Enterprise on October 22, 2017

By David Cohen

Owned by John Russo, who is synonymous with Italian cuisine in the Banning area, Russo’s Haven Coffee Bistro Cafe offers an array of breakfast items, grilled paninis, sandwiches, wraps and salads.

We visited recently during lunchtime to sample a number of the offerings.

For me, fresh ingredients are a given, but sandwiches rise and fall on the quality of the sauce and the intensity of flavor that it imparts to the contents.

We started with a superb chipotle chicken sandwich with diced avocado and sliced pepper jack cheese on grilled sourdough bread — bursting with complimentary flavors and a slow-building heat. Unfortunately, only two thirds of the accompanying fruit salad was ripe and flavorful (cantaloupe and pineapple), while the honeydew was barely green hued and unripe, and should never have made it to the plate.

The Haven Club contained smoked ham, bacon, smoked turkey (all from Boar’s Head ), cheddar, tomatoes and lettuce. The ingredients were plentiful enough, but the sandwich was rather dry and the ranch dressing on the side failed to materialize. The sandwich would have benefitted from some garlic aioli spread on each bread slice.

The accompanying potato salad was eggy and contained diced onions. Some herb such as dill or oregano would have enhanced the flavor profile.

We also ordered the pesto mozz vegetarian selection (all sandwiches were ordered to go), but when we unwrapped it, the sandwich turned out to be the chicken sandwich with similar ingredients (basil pesto, roasted red peppers and melted mozzarella), but lacking the baby spinach, tomatoes and olives found on the vegetarian sandwich. More pesto would have accentuated the overall flavor. The macaroni salad side was rather lackluster with diced olives, onions and celery. A bit of deli mustard or garlic powder would have jazzed it up.

The grilled roast beef special wrap incorporated a bevy of […]    

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