cafe du soleil
cafe du soliel inhabits the former movida lounge space, which in turn inhabited the former armadillo bar space. the evolution of the businesses in this little storefront really reflects the changes that have been taking place across this city as a whole. in short, upwardly mobile. oh sure, some curmudgeons, myself included amongst this crusty old lot, may bemoan the gentrification of this small burg known as san francisco, but when it comes to a comparison between the stanky, vomit-scented filthy armadillo and cafe du soleil, well, gentrification ain't so bad after all. to be perfectly honest, even a starbucks would've been an improvement.
the movida folks really did a great job remodeling and cleaning up the venue after the armadillo, removing the black paint from the windows and road-kill smell that permeated the interior. as cafe du soleil it still retains this bright, airy feeling with warm wood tones and a warm palette of colors on the wall. despite there being tons of seating options inside the space somehow manages to not feel overly cramped. plus, there are lots of table outside on the sidewalk. chances of getting an outside seat are pretty good. the vibe is good. the coffee and pastries are good.
the menu includes breakfasty and snacky things like granola, french toast, salads, a variety of nibbles (nuts, popcorn, olives, pickled vegetables, french fries etc.), open-faced sandwiches, pastries, coffee and beer. the cappucinos are served in those huge bowls. it feels decadent.
during our visit on a sunny sunday afternoon, being a little too hungry for just a pastry, we sampled a few of the open-faced sandwiches coupled with good strong house coffee.
smoked salmon, creme fraiche, green herbs and shallots open faced sandwich $8.00
my cafe companion selected the smoked salmon open-faced sandwich, which went for a whopping eight bucks. it was basically a very long angle cut slice of a wheaty-olivey bread cut into four pieces with a little creme fraiche slathered on and topped by thin slices of smoked salmon. it came with a side salad of mixed greens whose dressing was disappointing in the extreme. a bland and oily mess with no hint of either acidity or salt or herbs. the sandwich was reported to be good but at eight bucks it was no bargain. did i mention it was tiny?
hummus, avocado, cucumber, sprouts and tomato open faced sandwich $8.00
i selected one of the two vegetarian sandwichs on offer: hummus, avocado, cucumber, sprouts and tomato. like the smoked salmon sandwich it was a long slice of a very hearty bread cut into four sections with a smear of hummus, a sprinkling of sprouts, a slice of tomato and a chunk of avocado crowned with a black olive. the bread was strange. not quite toasted but not really soft. in fact, it had a slightly stale texture. the hummus was a bit bland and oily, the tomato your standard pale red tasteless slicer (and this in tomato season!), but the avocado was generous and perfectly ripe, rich and creamy. overall the sandwich didn't really work for me. it was heavy and bland at the same time. the accompanying salad was drenched in the same flavorless oil slick as the one that accompanied the salmon sandwich. this also rang in at eight bucks.
the bottom line is that this is a great little cafe but a bit pricey. skip the eight dollar "open-faced sandwiches", grab a sunny table on the sidewalk, sip some excellent coffee in gigantic tureens and nibble on the very good pastries.
cafe du soleil
200 waller street
san francisco 934 8637