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Simple sandwiches and coffee with perks



It's bothersome when restaurants -- intending to add an air of sophistication and exclusivity to whatever it is they're hawking -- use "gourmet" to describe their common, everyday fare. For example, Perk & Beans in the renovated College Park commercial district bills itself as a place for "gourmet coffee, tea and food." And with more than 400 varieties of coffees and teas, there really is something to satisfy the even most discriminating of java junkies. Perhaps this is where "gourmet" term may apply, in that coffee snobs with an acquired predilection for orange-chocolate-amaretto-mint brews and the like will most likely find their flavor here. But those who would call themselves a "gourmet" would find the accompanying cuisine too unpretentious for their cultivated tastes.

The abbreviated food menu consists mainly of salads and pressed panini sandwiches, made from turkey, ham, chicken, salami or variations of the four meats. We opted for the club panini ($5.95), with turkey, bacon, tomatoes, greens and provolone grilled on Italian bread. It was tasty, but a club sandwich is a club sandwich -- pressing it on a George Foreman Grill and calling it a panini doesn't change that.

So the focus is definitely on the go juice. But the inside is comfortable, with an understated neighborhood-hangout feel. And the piece de resistance has to be the "Foglifter" -- the closest you can get to mainlining with Juan Valdez -- twice the caffeine without the expected acidity. Perfect for never sleeping again. P&B shares the same strip of Edgewater Drive with Roly Poly Sandwiches, K Restaurant and Jade Bistro, so patrons for all places are jockeying for the same parking spots, making it frustrating for those after a quick coffee and a bite to go. But if you've a got a couple spare minutes, the jolt of the "Foglifter" alone is worth the extra time.

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