Students study at Stirling’s with the advantage of updated furniture. Photo courtesy of Caroline Jacobs (C’23).
By Mary Katherine Saye
As a freshman new to campus, I’ve already become a regular visitor at Stirling’s. The cafe is a Sewanee staple: a warmly lit coffee house with comforting scents of coffee and pastries welcomes visitors as soon as they walk through the door.
Named after a beloved English professor, Ted Stirling, this charming cafe has caffeinated many students before exams and fed countless customers with its creative sandwiches for 23 years. Though some changes have been made to the menu, Stirling’s has simply added new to the old — a quality that makes this place an ongoing treasure in Sewanee.
The most noticeable of changes made to Stirling’s is its new furniture which has a sleek, modern look. The chairs are a bright blue, adding to the quirkiness of the cafe. Even the porch swing has been upgraded and now contains cup holders for drinks.
Stirling’s also introduces a new menu item: a delightfully light sandwich called the “banh mi,” a traditional Vietnamese dish. This sandwich is full of chicken, pickled carrots, cucumbers, jalapeños, cilantro, red onions, a new ginger mayo, and is also available in a vegan option which is made with Short Mountain tempeh.
This “banh mi” sandwich was integrated into the Stirling’s menu by employee Caroline Graham (C’21). According to shift manager Henri Bonner (C’20), employees usually experiment with new menu items during the slow summer months when they have the time to whip up something to eat for themselves.
Customers are also welcome to personalize menu items to their own tastes. For example, former employee, Meg Kirby (C’19), likes to add goat cheese, bacon, and basil to the “Sunrise Breakfast.”
Additionally, Stirling’s customers can now explore drink options in the grab-n-go section, such as Coca Cola products including Vitamin Water and Peace Tea, new Short Mountain Cultures drinks, and a variety of energy bars. In addition, the cafe now offers three milk substitutes: almond, coconut, and oat.
Although some modest price adjustments have had to be made, the new menu items and updated décor are definitely worth it.
The next time you visit this picturesque Sewanee landmark, stay a while. Order a bestseller such as the curry chicken salad sandwich or All Saint’s drink. Or personalize it to make it your own. Who knows? You might just help add something new to the esteemed tradition that is Stirling’s.
Edit: Originally, the article expressed that the “banh mi sandwich was recently created” by a Stirling’s employee. This dish did not originate at Stirling’s, but stems from Vietnamese cuisine.