Monday, February 10, 2014

Not Too Different From Your High School: Cafeteria

TL;DR: ★★★☆☆

Crowded space, very loud atmosphere, just-OK food. Though prices aren't too bad here, it definitely would not be one of my go-to brunch places.

Food: ★★★☆☆
Ambiance: ★★☆☆☆
Staff: ★★★★☆

Price: $-$$
Number of visits: 1

 17th St. & 7th Ave. (look how nasty the weather was this day, ugh)

For a small Wolverines reunion (GO BLUE), I suggested we go to Cafeteria for Sunday brunch as I'd been wanting to try this place for quite some time. The three of us came here on a Sunday afternoon (around 1:30), and it was unsurprisingly busy. But for how busy it was, we actually didn't have to wait too long — I think only about 15 to 20 minutes — which was great.

As we waited and got seated at a table by the window, I took a scan around the restaurant to take note of the decor. Everything was very clean, sleek and modern, which went well with the theme of the restaurant: modern comfort food. Though I appreciated the cleanliness, there was nothing too special about the interior, and the ambiance wasn't the best as it was really loud and rowdy. For this reason, I wouldn't say this would be the best date spot (maybe it'd be OK for dinner, but I haven't been here in the evening), but it would be a good place for groups and families as I saw a lot of kids as well.

After a quick glance at the menu, we easily decided on a carafe of their sparkling blood orange mojito. And after a sip, I think we all agreed that it was a great decision. This was a deliciously refreshing drink with just the right amount of alcohol to get us ever-so-slightly tipsy (well, the ladies at least) while maintaining the sweet taste of the mixers and fruit. I also very much appreciated the fresh slices of lime and sprigs of mint, which made the beverage that much more refreshing. Plus, the carafe had the perfect amount to split among three people — about 1 to 2 glasses per person.

Sparkling blood orange mojito (~$24, I believe?)

So that was the good part of the meal, but then came the more-important-yet-unfortunately-less-impressive part: the food. After debating between the silver dollar pancakes and the biscuits and gravy, I decided to give the biscuits a try because I had, at the time, an unopened bottle of high-quality maple syrup from Vermont waiting to be used at home and been meaning to make homemade pancakes. But after my first bite of this dish, I wished I had ordered the pancakes.

Biscuits and gravy with over-medium eggs ($11)

Here's why I'd regretted my decision: While the eggs were great and cooked perfectly to order, the biscuits and gravy, aka the star of the show, were quite disappointing. To begin with, the biscuits were very hard and not as flaky and buttery as I'd hoped, thus making them quite dry. I know it's inevitable that biscuits will make you reaching for your water, but these made my mouth feel very dehydrated, even when smothered in the gravy.

Speaking of gravy, I was also not a big fan of it mostly because it was a bit too creamy for my taste. On the menu, it said it was a spicy sausage gravy, and I wished that it had more of the heat and spice from "spicy" and more of the sausage, which was pretty much nonexistent.

And lastly, the service was neither great nor horrible, but I gave it 4 stars due to the swift seating. Our server also seemed to be quick on his feet, but again, there was nothing special about the service.

All in all, I don't think this place would be the first I think of when asked for a brunch recommendation. There are so many better places in the city, and given the fact that Cafeteria was just meh for me, I definitely would suggest other restaurants first (hm, maybe I should do a compiled best-places-for-brunch post...).

I would, however, come back here for dinner or the pancakes, which seem to get a lot of love. Though the biscuits and gravy were disappointing, I think Cafeteria deserves a second chance.

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