Walter Mencken 10:06 a.m., Feb. 6
Warm and toasty North County coffee stop
The chilly weather over the weekend put a damper on one of my favorite activities: sitting outside cafes and drinking coffee. The act is made less pleasant for me, who chills easily, when the air has such bite to it. Stopping by Cafe Elysa in Carlsbad was sort of a lucky break for me in that respect because the patio comes complete with open fire pits. It’s almost impossible for me to be too warm, so that was enough to win me over right there.
I imagine that Elysa suffers on rainy days, as the miniscule interior could barely hold the line of people waiting to get coffee and breakfast on a weekend morning. It’s the patio that makes the place. It wraps around the edge of the building, encompassing a few of those wonderful fire pits along the way.
I ordered a cappuccino, which was merely adequate because the foam wasn’t dense enough, and an apple turnover that was quite good. The crumbly puff pastry encompassed a sweet core of apple filling that was a lighter alternative to the oil-heavy, sugar-laden pastries that I usually feed myself if given half the chance. In front of a raging fire on a chill-but-sunny day, it was pretty hard to beat. The other pastry selections look mediocre at best and I think the turnover was a standout, kind of like the apple dumplings at Squire’s. Muffins and croissants looked only so-so and the little tarts and whatnot to the right of the register had clearly languished for a while.
The cafe could stand a touch more organization. Staff was friendly enough, but I did sense a little amateur incompetence during the long wait for my coffee. At one point, I heard the baristas trying to figure out which customer had ordered which meal and with which drink. Such problems shouldn’t happen in the first place, but they always do and tend to slow down service.
Cafe Elysa had a compelling list of heartier breakfast fare. Everything was priced reasonably, considering the upscale neighborhood surroundings, in the $5-$10 range. The stuffed french toast plates looked good, as did the abundant hash browns piled alongside the omelet and egg dishes. The tea selection was remarkable, with countless iterations of fruit-infused tea, both black and green, and other herbal infusions. I might venture that the “meh” coffee could easily be outdone by a hot cup of tea!
Just make sure to snag a seat by the fire pit.
3076 Carlsbad Boulevard
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