Scott Marks 3:01 p.m., May 20
I knew nothing about Café 21 when my friend Delicia invited me to join her there for lunch. She gave me an address on Adams Avenue, and I showed up. It was lunchtime, and luckily, D had arrived just in time to snag the last of the outdoor tables.
The restaurant’s tagline is ‘Neighborhood fare with flair,’ and this seems to apply to the staff as well as the menu. The servers acted so familiar, I thought for sure Delicia was a regular, but this was only her second time in the joint.
The lunch menu options make for a fun read, but they also present a challenge in the area of decision-making. To go with the rosemary roasted lamb sandwich ($13), the grilled prosciutto crepe ($13), or a spicy Monte Cristo ($10)? Add to these options a collection of specials that you might not get to see again, and the choice isn’t an easy one.
Both D and I went with the special that sang to us: Sona’s Rollup ($12), a flatbread filled with homemade turkey sausage, spinach, and mozzarella, baked and topped with cheddar and feta, and garnished with pesto.
The server who pointed the special out to us mentioned that we could substitute lamb sausage if we wanted. And we both did. The turkey would have been great, I’m sure, but I love lamb, and when it's offered, I'll usually accept.
The rollup was so fresh. The spinach, the pesto, the sausage, all of it. I usually feel like I shouldn’t order the same thing as my lunch date, but I’m glad we did this time. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure I would’ve had food envy.
Though neither of us planned to drink, one of the drink specials sang to us, too. So after we ate, we both ordered the Zaney Pants ($7).
At 24%, Han Vodka has a lower alcohol content than other vodkas, so it’s acceptable to serve at a restaurant with only a beer and wine license. So says Angelina, creator of the Zaney Pants, which includes the vodka “muddled with lemon, orange, and raw sugar, and a touch of champagne.”
The drink was fresh and tangy, a lovely way to celebrate a sunny Thursday afternoon.
Café 21 has another location in the Gaslamp.