#162: Cafe Americano

This morning I had a rare day off for company coming into town and getting ready for a busy wedding filled weekend.  I took the opportunity to go to breakfast and was joined by my grandma.  I saw this Amazon deal for Cafe Americano on Foothills at Junction recently and decided to try them out.  One of my readers brought this breakfast/lunch place to my attention a while ago.  They opened sometime early this year in the old Papaya Thai location.

We arrived at about 8:45AM and walked into a very quiet dining room.  There were maybe a couple tables occupied.  We were greeted instantly by the one server working at the time.  She offered us a booth or table and we took a seat.  The dining room hasn’t changed a whole lot aside from the color of the walls and new decorations.  The tables and booths are the same, as is the mini bar/counter thing that’s set up at the back of the room, which is basically an espresso bar now.  They have a menu dedicated to it.   Now seated at a small table near the windows, we were handed menus and she took our drink order.  We both ordered regular coffee, which she brought out immediately.  It was steaming hot, though not too hot to enjoy right away.  They serve Peet’s Coffee here.  I’m not even remotely a coffee connoisseur, I enjoy the drip Folgers my co-workers make, so I was pretty happy with this.  It’s free refills of course, and I had several.

The menu is long.  They start out with a big list of omelettes and move on to heavier, meat-focused plates.  After that you’ve got your typical egg-centric things like beneticts and combos, French toast, pancakes, waffles and so on.  The section that caught my eye was crepes.  It’s something you don’t run into that often around here, and I was interested in seeing how theirs was.  I picked out the California Crepe (two crepes filled with bacon, tomatoes, green onions, olives and mushrooms.  Filled and topped with American cheese and sliced avocado.  Served with hash browns or home-style potatoes.)[$8.99].  My grandma went with something from the seniors/children section, the Daylight Special (one egg, two strips of bacon or two sausage links, hash browns or home-style potatoes, served with toast or a biscuit)[$6.99].  She asked for the bacon to be a little on the crispy side.  The server mentioned that they are somewhat crispy normally, but would make a note of it.

The waiting began, and it was quite the wait.  We each had a refill or two while people paid and left, others came in to pick up to go orders, and a single person was seated and got his food well before ours.  I thought maybe he ordered ahead or that his order was insanely simple, but either way, our order took about 27 minutes according to my photo times.  That’s definitely some of the most waiting I’ve had to do for Eating Through Roseville in a while.  Right before our plates were brought out I heard a microwave ding and saw a muffin appear from that direction (which my grandma had picked in lieu of the toast or biscuit).  From my position in the dining room I could see the main make table of the kitchen and saw the cook slicing up avocado to finish up my plate.

Finally, our plates arrived.  I had also ordered a side of wheat toast which I had forgotten about.  The server mentioned that it was toasting and would be right out.  The first thing I noticed was that my avocado looked a little sad.  Upon closer inspection it appeared that in scooping it out, he really was scraping every bit of avocado out and there was traces of rind on the slices.  It wasn’t something I could taste or feel but the presentation was not great.

The crepe itself was thicker than I am used to and had a somewhat heavier, chewier texture to it.  I would put it somewhere between a crepe and a flour tortilla.  It wasn’t particularly hot, which is what my grandma said about her plate as well.  I also thought that they forgot the cheese, but I think I simply misread the description, because I did find it inside, along with all the other ingredients.  The bacon was definitely on the crispy side, though mixed in with the moist veggies it kind of lost that crisp.  Flavor-wise the whole thing was kind of blah.  Nothing really stood out to me,  Everything kind of blended together in every bite.  I had a small piece of my grandma’s stand-alone bacon and it was decent.  The hash browns I actually really enjoyed and had devoured them pretty quickly.  Mostly because they were very crisp on the top, which is how I love them.  A lot of places can’t even get them done that way when I ask for some reason, so this was nice.

Unfortunately it, and the Peet’s coffee were the highlights of this breakfast.  The toast was also not very warm and just kinda meh.  There was practically no butter on it, and I’m not sure why I expected something more than Welch’s jelly packets, but I did, and it was a little disappointing.

Overall, we were not at all impressed with our breakfast here.  The service was decent and at the very least pleasant.  There was nothing mentioned in regards to our food taking so long.  Was the experience horrible?  No, but it was certainly far from good.  We’ve got some great breakfast options in Roseville, and I highly doubt I will find myself here again.

Website: http://www.cafeamericanoroseville.com/

#157: Nela’s Mexican Restaurant

I just returned from Nela’s Mexican Restaurant, where I had dinner tonight.  This family run Mexican joint sits on Vernon St. in downtown Roseville, just a couple spots over from Sammy Hagar’s place.  I had intended to go to an Indian restaurant nearby, called Shalimar Indian Cuisine, but they seem to have gone out of business because I couldn’t find it.

Before I dive into this one I just want to say hello to any new visitors that might see this.  Facebook offered me a little advertising credit, because I had been poking around in the ad stuff, so I figured I might as well use it.  In less than 24 hours almost 100 people have liked the Eating Through Roseville page, which was a nearly 50% increase.  Crazy.  I hope you guys enjoy the blog and find it useful!

Nela’s was Eva’s at some point.  In fact I thought it was still Eva’s up until I saw the menu.  There is practically no signage on the building.  The only things that give this place away are the Corona decals in half of the windows and a little sign that says “Mexican Restaurant” propped up against the glass from the inside.  It’s a much bigger space than I was expecting.  When I showed up and first took a picture of the outside I only included the Corona windows because I thought the other half was a different business.  It wasn’t until I walked up and realized that there was no handle on the right side door that it was twice as wide.  I headed to the left, through that door and inside.  Right at the door I passed an employee that was cleaning the windows.  There a little counter and register up front.  I missed the smallish sign that said “seat yourself” and waited awkwardly for about 15-20 seconds until the guy finished his window and asked if I was ordering takeout.  He told me to sit wherever I liked after I said I would be dining in.

The dining area is a big rectangular area that is lined mostly with booths and filled with tables in the center.  They had them arranged into a few long tables for a big group that I guess was coming in later.  Not long after I sat down they were setting them up with chips and salsa.  Nobody had arrived by the time I left about a half hour later.  My table had a couple menus there already and the guy that was cleaning windows ended up being the server.  He brought me water just a moment after I had made myself comfortable and asked if I wanted to order anything to drink.  I was looking over the drink menu and told him not quite yet.  They have a fairly typical drink selection, about 7 or 8 beers, mostly imports from Mexico, Jarritos, regular sodas and a non-alcoholic, grape flavored sangria.

Just a minute or two later he returned with chips and salsa.  I had decided to stick with water as nothing was really tickling my fancy tonight.  I still needed a few minutes to peruse the menu(PDF).  I figured I’d be getting their carnitas plate, assuming they had one (spoiler: they do), but I wanted to take a look at everything first.  It was pretty typical, appetizers, soups/salads, burritos, make-your-own combos and finally the house specialties.  I was really hungry this evening so, to be honest, a lot of it sounded pretty damn good.  Of course I eventually found the carnitas, at the very end, and ordered that up (roasted pork served with shredded lettuce, fresh sliced onions, tomatoes and avocado)[$11.95].  It included beans, rice and a small salad.

Much like my recent visit, to Cafe Delicias, I was served two types of salsa — Pico de gallo in a little cup and a salsa roja in a squeeze bottle with a dish for it.  The chips were served at room tempurature and were thicker than average.  Not quite Carmelita’s-thick, but getting there.  With their thickness and rigidity they easily scooped up as much salsa as I desired.  They could probably stand up to even the heartiest of bean dips.  They had a very nice, solid crunch to them, but not much in the way of flavor.  I found that to be pretty much in line with most of the boring chips you get around Roseville.  Texture is about the only thing that set these aside.  The cool pico de gallo seemed very fresh, was quite mild and almost refreshing in a way.  I really dug it, and I’m not that much of a pico de gallo guy.  I tend to gravitate more to the thinner, hotter salsas, such as what was in the bottle next to it.  This was very bold and had a roasty chili flavor to it, as well as an immediate kick that lingered on my tongue.  I could tell instantly that this could build quickly over consecutive scoops if left unchecked.

I didn’t get more than a few chips in and my side salad arrived.  This visit was starting to feel more and more like Cafe Delicias.  It was about the same sized little salad with just a touch too much dressing for what it was.  Again, the blue cheese dressing was plenty good and the lettuce was very crisp and cold.  They were tearing it up in the kitchen (read: plating pre-prepped food) because I didn’t even get halfway through my salad before I saw my server walking towards me with my carnitas plate.  I quickly slid a bunch of things aside to make room for it.  Again, just like Cafe Delicias, I was told that the plate was very hot and to be careful.  I was having serious déjà vu.

This plate, however, was nowhere near as hot as that other one.  The first thing that I noticed was how big the carnitas chunks were.  Instead of the typical shredded bits it was 3 or 4 big chunks.  The usual re-fried beans and rice took a good chunk of the plate and a nice presentation of tomato, onion and avocado slices atop a small pile of shredded lettuce finished off the plate.  I had a little concern regarding the pork and it being such big chunks.  I figured that there would not be much in the way of crispy edges compared to the shredded style.  In this I was right.  It pulled apart with my fork and knife pretty easily and at least appeared to be nice and moist.  Unfortunately looks were somewhat deceiving here.  I found that most of the meat was somewhat dry.  A handful of bites were pretty tender and delicious with a crispy edge to it, but they were few and far between.  I strategically used tomato slices to counter the dryness, but there wasn’t much to go around.  In hindsight I wish I had asked for some sour cream, which probably would have helped out a ton.  As for the rice and beans, I also found the rice to be on the dry side, though it was actually some of the tastier rice I’ve had in recent memory.  I mixed it into the very mediocre beans and crisp shredded lettuce after a couple bites.

The service was ridiculously fast and the guy was friendly and patient.  Unfortunately the food just didn’t do anything for me.  The best part of my meal was the salsas.  Not exactly what you look for in a Mexican restaurant, right?  So pretty disappointing overall.  Fortunately we have lots of fantastic Mexican to choose from in Roseville.

(Scanned) Menu: Click Here


#24: Waffle Square

It’s pretty rare for me to get up in time for breakfast on the weekends.  When I do it’s usually because I have company from out of town and we don’t want to waste hangout-time by sleeping in.  I’ve been to Waffle Square only a handful of times, and I don’t really recall anything about those visits (except that my hat once ended up falling into a lake of maple syrup after I attempted to hang it on a nail sticking out of the wall, but I digress).  This morning worked out well for breakfast out since I was selling some old computer parts on craiglist and was meeting the buyers in the morning.

Waffle Square is right next to the McDonalds on Harding, just down and across the street from the Trader Joes shopping center.  There were about a dozen customers already seated at tables or at the counter when I walked in.  I was greeted and taken to a little 4-person, high-backed booth in the middle.  The server that seated me asked what I would like to drink even before I sat down.  I’m not much of a coffee guy except for a cup at work to wake up, and I find the price of milk in restaurants to be absolute robbery, so I just went with a water.

The menu (here) has everything you would expect from a breakfast place- waffles, pancakes, omelets, skillets and more.  They also have a small lunch menu, I only particularly remember seeing burgers on it.  They seem to be missing a page on the website (the waffle page is there twice, so maybe thats where it went) otherwise I’d point you to that to see the other lunch options.  I almost always exclusively order a waffle with over medium eggs, bacon and hash browns when I go out for breakfast, but I thought I had better try something else since my previous visits were not very memorable.  I’ve had excellent chorizo scrambles for breakfast a number of times so I picked their version, the Huevos con Chorizo (3 eggs scrambled with chorizo and onions).  It comes with hash browns and either tortillas or toast.  I chose the toast.

My order arrived in less than 10 minutes and my server asked if I needed any ketchup or hot sauce.  I’ve never used either with breakfast before so I declined.  Everything looked decent, the hash browns appeared crispy as I requested.  The Huevos con Chorizo looked a little off and I couldn’t quite place it at the time but now as I look back at my favorite chorizo scramble I see that it had other things it in besides just the chorizo, onions and egg.

This chorizo scramble was unfortunately very bland, as were the hash browns and toast.  The toast was very lightly buttered, and I ended up adding jelly to each slice.  Plenty of other breakfast places I’ve been to have toast that I’m happy to eat with just the butter.  I have no idea how you make hash browns, do you season them at all with salt or anything else?  If so, I think they forgot that here.  They were the most boring hash browns I’ve had in a long time, they had virtually no flavor.  The only good thing was the crispy top.

I wasn’t really sure if I was even going to finish the chorizo, and then I remembered the hot sauce option, so I flagged down my server and asked for it.  Tobasco and Cholula arrived together.  I put a small amount of Cholula on some of the chorizo and it was petty good, so I applied it to the rest.  I probably could have tried to enhance the hash browns with ketchup, but ketchup just doesn’t sound appealing to me in the morning, so I plodded through them plain.

So now I know why I can’t remember the previous visits to Waffle Square, it’s a very forgettable breakfast.  The service was fast and friendly, and they open very early, at like 5 or 530, so I guess they have that going for them.  In my opinion there are much better breakfast options in Roseville.  iHop, while a chain, is always a solid breakfast and I’ve never been disappointed.  There is one called the Original Pancake House over near there as well, but I haven’t been there yet.  Waffle Barn is great and I look forward to eventually going there for the blog.

0.5 for the food but +1 for the service.