Coffee and crepes
The flavors of Turkey, Jordan, Italy and France take over downtown
If you’ve never had a Turkish coffee, get thee to Arabica Cafe. You will not be disappointed. I’ve been waiting (and waiting) for owner Sam Shabbar to finish his impressive remodel of the former hookah bar on Broadway specifically to get my Turkish coffee fix. The coffeehouse and bakery opened its doors last month and I was able to satisfy my craving.
After ordering, I sat down to the most decadent little cup—a large espresso mug (so, tiny) fitted inside a silver casing, complete with saucer and lid, and with decidedly Turkish embellishments. It felt perfectly authentic. And with my first sip, it tasted like it should—strong!
For the uninitiated, Turkish coffee is first ground very finely. Then it’s cooked on a stove; served black (if you want sugar, say so when you order); and drunk slowly, as you don’t want to swallow the grounds that settle at the bottom.
Shabbar also presented me with a pastry with origins in his home country of Jordan. The warbat is flaky philo dough filled with sweet cream and rosewater and topped with pistachios. I’d never heard of warbat—and I’ve never tasted anything quite like it. Light, only slightly sweet, and the perfect accompaniment to the Turkish coffee, which gave me a serious zing!
In addition to a full coffee and pastry menu, Arabica Cafe also serves up smoothies, paninis and personal Greek-style pizzas. (Note to anyone who doesn’t eat pork: The pepperoni is beef!)
More coffee drinks Naked Lounge is spicing up its menu by adding a selection of Gunther’s Ice Cream, from Sacramento, and with it the affogato, an Italian treat that consists of a scoop of ice cream “drowned” in a shot of espresso. I like both of those things, so I figured I’d try one.
I ordered mine with the vanilla bean ice cream. Delicious. Topped with espresso, it was … strange. The bitterness finished off with the sweet had my taste buds a bit confused, I think. It was certainly a unique flavor. If you’re curious as I was, go try one—it’ll set you back only $5.
Finally crêpes! I know I’m not alone in my excitement that Crêpeville—that massive restaurant on the corner of Third and Main streets—is finally open. A crêpe, please! I wandered over there the other day and perused the menu, which consists of savory and sweet crêpes, as well as a host of breakfast scrambles and Benedicts and other non-crêpe items (why bother?).
I ordered the Greek Delight, filled with artichoke hearts, black olives, onions, cheddar, feta and mushrooms. It came with a side of potatoes.
First note: My server, Brian, was attentive and almost too friendly. That’s not a complaint. Second: While my crêpe had burst on my plate, it was absolutely delicious. My feeling of something missing was only in the condiment selection: ketchup and mustard. How about a nice béchamel? I bet it would go great with the potatoes (which had excellent seasoning, by the way), as well. Third: The Grand View Building art exhibit on the back wall is worth a look.