On the Market

Roomy restaurant offers equally expansive menu

BIG AND BRIGHT<br>The Market Café's large, inviting dining room is great for get-togethers as well as wedding receptions.

The Market Café's large, inviting dining room is great for get-togethers as well as wedding receptions.

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

Market Café & Dinner House
1387 E. Eighth St.
Phone: 892-2332
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 6 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat. 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
More info: www.marketcafechico.com

Market Cafe

1387 E. Eighth St.
Chico, CA 95928

(530) 892-2332

Market Café & Dinner House is a lovely eatery serving up some surprising menu delights and old favorites, some with an inventive twist. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as desserts and coffee all day long, the Market Café is perfect for a meal or meeting, party or musical event. The large dining area makes this establishment an attractive venue for wedding receptions and bluegrass shows alike, but despite the size of the restaurant, the friendly staff manages to convey a sense of cozy hospitality.

My first visit was for a solo breakfast, and after perusing the menu, I ordered the Denver omelet ($6.50). I wished I had brought a friend, or three, as I desperately wanted to sample the waffle with fruit and whipped cream ($4.25) and the House Specialty granola ($2.75) served with low-fat plain yogurt and honey. I settled for taking some apple kuchen ($3.25) to go. It proved to be a delightful apple cake, truly reminiscent of my childhood spent in Germany.

I hadn’t even made it through a chapter in my book when my breakfast was served, a huge omelet stuffed with cheese, onion, bell pepper and ham; the other half of the plate was taken up by hash browns. Along with a large coffee with two shots of their excellent espresso, my delicious early-morning repast became the start to a fantastic day.

I returned for brunch a few days later, joining two friends for a lazy afternoon of conversation and catching up over a meal of coffee, salad, sandwiches and cake. I ordered the Café Special Harvest Salad ($6.75), a beautiful mixture of field greens, dried cranberries, dates, Bartlet pear, grapes, crumbled blue cheese and a honey-lime vinaigrette that’s divine. We shared around the table until every last cranberry had been eaten.

I ordered the Fromage-a-Trois ($5.50), a grilled cheese made with ricotta, feta and mozzarella cheeses on sourdough bread. OK, so I ordered it for the name, but it is aptly mouthwatering and does border on orgasmically good. My friend ordered the Grilled Portabella Mushroom Sandwich ($6.95), served with burger fixings and a side salad. We shared our sandwiches, our salads, some fries (the best I’ve had in a long time), coffee and carrot cake.

Thoroughly satiated with food, drink and conversation, I looked at the wares for sale, picked out some tea I’d been searching for and contemplated our meal. Excellent, attentive service, combined with comfort food spiced up with interesting ingredients, and a nice dining area made for a great get-together experience.

After fawning over Market Café's previous offerings, my companion was as eager as I was to sample some dinner, so I returned yet again for another stellar culinary performance. We ordered the chicken cacciatore ($10.95) and the angel-hair pasta with grated parmesan ($7.95). Both come with a dinner salad, and we sampled the stuffed baked tomato ($4.95), made with cream cheese, sausage and bell peppers and topped with parmesan cheese.

The service was attentive, the portions generous but not outrageous. With bell peppers, onions and diced tomatoes, the chicken cacciatore was a beautiful, eye-pleasing mélange of colors and textures, but the angel-hair pasta was a bit too simple for me, so I asked for some fresh basil. Almost immediately, julienned basil was brought to the table and I enjoyed my comfort food thoroughly.

I would enjoy seeing more options added to the dinner menu, perhaps even another vegetarian dish or some fish. I wanted to sample their soup of the day as well, so I returned the next day and ordered the tomato bisque ($3.50), which was good, rich, hearty and full of basil. Served with a cornbread scone, it was a satisfying lunch.

Market Café has Sierra Nevada on tap and a pretty good wine list, along with sodas, smoothies, coffee drinks and blended drinks. The food is simple, sometimes surprising, but always satistfying.