Eating lunch at Tiny Boxwood's Cafe can be a paradoxical experience. On the one hand there is a crisp attention to detail in both the decor and the food. On the other hand, the menu, scribbled on a wall-high chalkboard just as you walk in, frustratingly omits any reference to prices. And although the atmosphere is unmistakably River Oaks-y (i.e. fancy and upscale), the counter service is actually friendly and casual.
Similarly, the homey space with comfortable chairs, comforting food, and superb coffee suggest a leisurely lunch for those with time to kill (i.e. ladies who lunch). But the smallish dining room with fewer than 15 tables (supplemented by a long communal table and a bar area), combined with a crush of patrons at lunch and dinner, results in fierce jockeying for open tables. And although you are never overtly hurried to finish your meal, that third cup of coffee may elicit evil stares from newly arrived patrons waiting for a table.
Ultimately, whatever complaints you have about Tiny Boxwood's are assuaged by the outstanding quality of the food. During a recent lunch visit, my initially skeptical dining companion was won over by the great fare. It turns out that the proof is in the pudding, or in this case, in the salads, sandwiches, burgers, and pizzas.
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Tiny Boxwood's Cafe is part of the Thompson and Hanson nursery (of the plant and garden variety) at the corner of West Alabama and Saint Street. There's a small adjacent parking lot, limited street parking, and a larger spillover lot about a block away. There's no valet parking, mandatory or otherwise, so parking is fend-for-yourself.
My dining companion, who is unreservedly pro-valet, was miffed that she had to walk a block in the midday heat to get to Tiny Boxwood's. "Make sure you put that in your report or blog or whatever," she fumed. I said I'd oblige.
Any lingering irritation disappeared when the food arrived. My companion had the turkey and avocado club sandwich; excellent except for a bit light on the turkey. I had the buffalo burger with blue cheese crumbles and pesto aioli. Very juicy and flavorful. French fries were crisp and fresh, with a perfect seasoning of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
At the end of the lunch my friend conceded, "Yeah, this place is pretty good." So if you can get past the lack of prices (they're reasonable by the way), the packed dining room, and the lack of parking, Tiny Boxwood's serves up some great food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.