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Restaurants & Bars

Berkeley – Brunch at Café de la Paz

rworange | Apr 17, 200612:20 AM

Going for a less traditional Easter … no ham, no kielbasa, no fuss, no leftovers … Easter brunch was at Café de la Paz.

I had in order of tastiness … from best to eh:
- Empadinha Brasileña - $4.95
- Café Cornbread - $2.00
- Llapingacho - $4.95

- Café Sangria
- Caipirinhan

I’d order the Empadinha Brasileña again in a heartbeat. These are some of the better empandas I’ve had … wonderfully flakey and lighly dusted on the bottom with cornmeal. Inside was creamy goat cheese with the perfect touch of fresh mint. It was a delicous combination.

Those Brazilians are good with cornmeal dusted crust. I usually don’t like cornmeal but in a few Brazilian dishes at various restaurants, I’ve really enjoyed the cornmeal.

Though the menu said there would be two, there were three bite-sized empanada on the plate with salad in the center. I am guessing this was the primavera salad – organic baby greens, cherry tomato, roast corn, and crumbly white cotija Mexican cheese lightly tossed with fresh orange vinaigrette. Excellent combination. I totally enjoyed and recommend this dish.

If I bring anyone to Café de la Paz, the cornbread is required ordering. It was a rustic, dense, crumbly cornbread with a lightly crunchy crust. In addtion to fresh corn niblets there was jalepenho … but no heat … just the wonderful flavor of jalepeno.

Just say no to the Llapingacho which the menu describes as - :Onion flavored potato cake filled with jack cheese and served with fried plantains and chile crema”

Four large greaseless plantan slices were arranged around a mound of mashed potatoes and drizzled with a tasteless pepto-bismo colored sauce. There was a little melted jack cheese sprinkled on the potatoes, but not enough to pick up the total lack of flavor in this dish. Potato pancake indeed.

In fact, the dish made me realize I don’t like plantains. They promise the goodness of bananas. They look like bananas. But they just are a bland starch in a banana peel. From the usual greasy mess to the nicely prepared Café de la Paz plantains, I don’t thik much of them. That’s what this dish did to me … made me turn my back on plantains.

The sangria made of red wine, hibiscus , fresh orange juice, and lime, was a pretty purple and garnished with an orange slice on the rim. It wasn’t amazing, but it was pleasant and worth the $4 a glass.

The Caipirinhan was a bit weak. They don’t usually serve it durng brunch so I might give it another try during dinner.

Some of the dishes on other tables looked good, some not so good. The egg dishes looked a little uninspiring. They had a special Easter brunch buffet for $19, but it was just chafing dishes with different scrambles, some fresh fruit and corn bread. Ordering off the regular brunch menu seemed the way to go.

I always check handicapped access and while Café de la Paz may meet the legal requirements, it is really not that handicapped friendly. I put my knee out doing over-zealous Easter cleaning. While it wasn’t enough to keep me from going up the stairs, sometimes going down is worse. So I took the elevator down.

Anyone in a wheelchair, forget it. The dining room is too cramped to fit a wheelchair comfortably. There is a more spacious dining area on the second floor, but no access to it. Maybe in nicer weather the outdoor patio would be an option. Even so, anyone in a wheelchair had better have someone with them. It would be very difficult to get out the door in front.

The handicapped entrance is on the corner next to Starbucks and for anyone having a lot of trouble walking, it is a longish walk.

Lots of pictures of the reataurant on the link to the website below. It is a nice room, especially if seated near the windows. All the tables are two-tops that can be pushed together to accommodate different sized parties. However, it is a noisy restuarnat when it gets full.

Service was good on this visit and I didn’t experience any of the slowness mentioned by many people. No one was overly friendly. The mission was to get the food to the table and it got there,.

While I can see where Café de la Paz could disappoint some people, I’ll probably be back to try the corn cakes and a few other dishes. The food is a little different and some of it was excellent. I look forward to sitting on that patio some time on a nice day … if there ever is another nice day.

Link: http://www.cafedelapaz.net/

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