Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cafe Estelle, Philadelphia PA

Cafe EstelleThis jem of a breakfast nook is tucked away inside the lobby of the 444 Lofts. While not the most convinent location for those on foot, if you drive there is both ample on-the-street metered parking as well as a few free spots reserved for the cafe in the loft's parking lot.

Inside, the walls are covered with art for sale by local artists. Tables, couch, or counter seating is available. On the tables are fresh flowers and under the tabletops are recipes from vintage magazines and cookbooks. The chairs have thick comfy cushions, encouraging guests to stay awhile.

Cafe Estelle's menu is rather eclectic ranging from Bagels with Vegan Butter Spread ($2.00) and Homemade Granola with local yogurt ($6.50) to Duck & Gorgonzola Flatbread Pizza ($8.50) and Braised Lamb Sandwich ($10.50). The unifying theme seems to be local and fare-trade menu options.

I decide to be decadent and order the Chocolate Banana Peanutbutter Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast with warm maple syrup and fresh fruit ($9.50). The first thing that I notice about the french toast is how clean the presentation is for something stuffed. I am used to filling pouring out over the sides when ordering stuffed creations and there is always a mess involved!

French Toast
At Cafe Estelle, the chef cuts a hole in the middle of the bread, stuffs it and covers it back up. This creates not only a very clean look but makes the toast much easier to eat! The bread is thick yet airy, the filling has just a hint of peanut butter, and the cream cheese is blended perfectly. The Stuffed French Toast does sit a bit heavy, but is much lighter than most.

Cafe Estelle's coffee is fair-trade, organic, and from a local vendor. You can order a “Bottomless Cup” for $2.75. According to my brunch-mate it is “strong but very good.”

Omelet My brunch-mate orders the Smoked Salmon, Scallion & Cream Cheese Omelet ($9.00) which comes with homefries and toast. The toast is made with a sourdough baguette that is baked on the premises. Our server informs us that the salmon is also smoked on premises. My brunch-mate, who was on the fence about ordering the omelet, is thrilled with her decision. The gentle smoke flavor of the salmon pairs beautifully with the cream cheese—it is not overwhelming as feared. The homefries are nicely seasoned and crispy.

Cafe Estelle makes all of their baked goods onsite. The chocolate chip cookies ($0.75 each or 3 for $2.00) are soft but also have a delightful crunch to them around the edges. The chocolate cannot really be called “chips” but rather are big globs that spread throughout the cookie.

chocolate chip cookie
If you plan to go before the new year, call ahead because the sign on the entrance says they will be closed from December 22-January 1.

If you go:
  • 444 N. 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123
    Between Callowhill and Spring Garden Streets
  • Phone: (215) 925-5080
  • They accept credit cards. BYOB.
  • Cafe Estelle Website

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