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Coffee & Tea 6

Berkeley Saturday: Café Fanny, Berkeley Espresso, Top Dog

Melanie Wong | May 4, 200403:29 PM

As luck would have it, Saturday morning my ride to the East Bay dropped me off at that sweet Berkeley strip mall, and I had another run at Café Fanny. Sitting outside with my breakfast, I was surprised at how many folks I recognized from the previous week’s festivities. Maybe they thought I was a regular too. As always, the bowl of café au lait was wonderful. I considered ordering the millet muffin that Sue is so high on, but instead decided to try the buckwheat crepes with homemade preserves. Those crepes turned out to be the first not-good thing I’ve had at Fanny. Previously, the closest I’ve come to dissatisfaction had been the beignets. Now they call them fried dough, and if you can mentally divorce them from the hot out of the fryer wonders in N’Awlins, they can be satisfying on their own terms. I wondered if I might have some preconceived notion of what buckwheat crepes should be that was keeping me from liking these.

Three crepes were folded into quarters and served with a little pot of good berry preserves. The sandy texture was interesting the first few bites, but soon the grittiness began to wear. The crinkle-edged crepes were very thin and dried out except for a spot of moist chewiness in the center. Besides being scratchy, they parched the tongue. Is this normal?

Moving on, I left in search of a wifi connection. Not knowing where to go, I rang my on-call Cal advisor, Cyrus Farivar, and was lucky to catch him at home. “Hey Cyrus, I’m on the 51 heading up University towards, where can I find non-Starbucks wifi?” He pointed me to Berkeley Espresso on Shattuck and Hearst (kitty korner from Bistro Liaison). A good choice, offering free wifi and electrical outlets aplenty. I got a fresh lemonade and a Madeleine. I’m a sucker for those little buttery cakes displayed in the big glass canisters. Here the canister of Madeleines was nearly 3/4s full making it a safe bet for freshness.

At 1:00pm, my sister came to pick me up. She brought me my favorite from the Top Dog on Northside, a bockwurst with just a little deli mustard. I enjoyed this in the car on the way to my next destination.


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