Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
Homecoming for a Pair of Village People
Most of my meals are strategized. Typically, it’s to provide myself and those who read my work a taste of what a restaurant has to offer. This weekend, I planned a visit to a specific venue, but the reason was a much different one.
Back when my wife was simply an amazing woman I was getting to know and trying very hard to woo, we would spend a lot of time at a quaint coffee shop by her apartment in Mission Valley called Village Coffee. Many were the Saturday and Sunday morning hours we’d spend sipping java, talking, laughing, and playing chess on a table with a board stenciled across its top.
With our anniversary approaching, I thought it would be nice to spend last Sunday morning revisiting the spot where some of our most enjoyable courtship memories were made. We hadn’t been there in well over five years. It still goes by the name Village Coffee, but there’s new ownership, and the chessboard has exited stage left to make room for more tables, because the place is now a full-on restaurant offering breakfast and lunch daily.
I’ll admit, upon entry, we were pretty bummed to see the changes. No couches, no house-made baked goods, no artwork gracing the walls; but since we hadn’t exactly done our part to support the former owners since moving from Mission Valley, we couldn’t very well complain they’d sold their spot. Besides, the new version was still cozy — the type of smallish spot where one can sit down, enjoy the paper or the morning news with a cup of Joe and standard, unpretentious breakfast fare. Nothing wrong with that.
In fact, as we settled in and simultaneously got into the Sunday paper, two large cups of coffee, and a “healthy wrap” — a wheat tortilla stuffed with eggs, avocado, tomato and feta cheese — I found myself really relaxing for the first time in, literally, months. It was the type of calmness that, unlike almost every meal of my life, one can’t plan for; a sneak attack of peace amid the stresses of everyday life. The wrap was very good, and the mammoth breakfast plates of hearty-looking eggs abutted by sausage and other breakfast standards looked extremely appetizing, but the main appeal of Village Coffee goes beyond edibles.
When trying to put my finger on the elements that came together to provide me such a pleasant surprise, the main culprits were the servers. If you saw them — young, unpolished kids in everyday garb save for their Village Coffee shirts — you wouldn’t expect much, but they were more attentive than numerous gourmet restaurant staffers I encounter, and enjoyable without exhibiting forced niceties. That was both refreshing and endearing.
In this case, the adage you can’t go home again proved true. However, the nice people, prices, and environment make the new Village Coffee a place that, were we still frequenters to Mission Valley, I wouldn’t mind making a home and some new memories at. Village Coffee is located at 10415 San Diego Mission Road.