Upon walking into Alexander’s Cafe, located on Chenango Street in Downtown Binghamton, you are immediately greeted by the massive chalkboard menu that hangs over where you order your food. All of it is enticing, from the student-oriented meal deals named “The Freshman,” “The Sophomore” and so on, to the many homemade soups and sides. My photographer, Karlie, and I were able to choose from the Restaurant Week menu, which allows you to get a three-course lunch for $18. After ordering with some assistance from owner and chef Alex, we were able to seat ourselves in the dining room. The cozy and casual atmosphere allowed us to quickly get comfortable. We were surprised and pleased with the quick service of the restaurant, clearly geared toward on-the-go students and workers in Binghamton.

After starting with ice-cold Cokes, we got to our meals. I chose the cheeseburger soup, the Rosalie panini and the vanilla raspberry cookiewich for my appetizer, entree and dessert, respectively, and Karlie ordered the tomato basil tortellini salad, the mango chicken burrito and the chocolate peanut butter ganache brownie. It was difficult to make our decisions with the variety of options on the menu, which also includes shrimp po boy and the Italian stallion panini. Nevertheless, we were both very satisfied with our choices.

I didn’t exactly know what to expect with the cheeseburger soup, but I really enjoyed it. It was light and savory, making the hot soup more enjoyable on one of the first hot days of the year. The broth has the texture and taste of Chef Boyardee without the taste of heavy processing, and the chunks of burger, potato, onion and other aspects of cheeseburgers were pleasant and did not weigh down the soup. Karlie felt her salad was the perfect start to the meal, as the tomato and basil worked together well as was a great compliment to the cheesy pasta.

The Rosalie panini, which included apple cranberry chicken salad, smoked gouda, fresh spring mix and red onions, was the perfect lunch for the hot day we were having. The chicken salad immediately stood out, pleasantly cool and both savory and sweet, thanks to the apple and cranberry that is included. Together with the rest of the ingredients, especially the spring mix, the panini had multiple different flavors and textures that melded extremely well. The panini was the exact right size to make a filling meal with the appetizer and dessert, making sure that you aren’t too full by the end.

Karlie’s burrito had an unexpected flavor that she would come back for anytime. The sweetness of the mango paired with the other savory ingredients to make for a great balance.

My absolute favorite part of the meal was the dessert. Raspberries are one of my favorite fruits, and as soon as I saw the option on the menu, I knew I had to get it. The cookiewich is made of two sugar cookies with raspberry mousse and spread between them. The incredibly crumbly cookie was held together by the sweet and lemony raspberry puree, which allowed me to savor it without the cookiewich falling apart. The raspberry spread in the middle was a pleasant surprise and added to the sweetness of the dessert. It was the perfect end to the meal, especially after the savory appetizer and entree. Karlie also spoke especially highly about her dessert.

“I love the pairing of chocolate and peanut butter, so the obvious dessert choice for me was the chocolate peanut butter ganache brownie,” Karlie wrote. “The chewy brownie held a soft peanut butter center, and was topped with rich chocolate ganache, the perfect treat to end any meal.”

Alexander’s Cafe is a great option for all Binghamton students, whether permanently on campus or constantly Downtown, since its fast-pace and casual vibe gives students the ability to race out of the restaurant with their food or to lounge over their meal. Their Restaurant Week menu provides a variety of options, allowing almost everyone to find something they’ll like — especially for just $18.