In an old, unassuming house on the corner of Edmonton Trail and 9th Avenue NE, great things are happening. Buzz about some amazing food had reached my ears and piqued my curiosity.
This old house is CEREZO Cafe & Bar, a casual cafe by day and Japanese tapas restaurant by night. Seems like an odd combination, but whatever they’re doing in there, it must be something special because I’ve been hearing great things about this place. So on an unusually sunny and warm January morning around brunching time, Mark and I headed there to check it out.
We went through the back entrance as we found it most convenient from where we’d parked. A short flight of stairs later, we were greeted by a friendly Japanese lady who directed us around to the front of a cafe-style station, where we were to first put in our order and then take a seat wherever we liked. The first thing that really struck me was the eclectic decor that gives the interior a unique charm. The space was beautifully lit from the sunlight streaming into the large windows, and the tables look like they’d been salvaged from garage or antique sales – nothing really matched, but it actually worked well in the space.
The menu is straightforward and written on a large chalkboard behind the main counter. A lot of items were on offer so it took us a few minutes to decide what to get. Aside from the breakfast and lunch menu, they had plenty of cafe-like goodies to choose from like muffins, cookies, and a glass display case filled with a tasty array of desserts. I had to stop looking at those desserts because they were distracting me with their beauty.
I was in the mood for more of a breakfast-type item, so I picked the Whole Wheat & Quinoa Waffles with Blueberry Compote. Mark, on the other hand, went with more of a lunch item with his selection of the Bolognese Sirloin Burger with Salad. For drinks, I got a Spanish latte (a latte made with sweetened condensed milk), which was beautifully rich, creamy, and perfectly balanced sweetness throughout, and Mark got an Americano.
We were both in awe with the presentation of the waffles. The plate is a work of art and I was impressed by the attention to detail.
Seriously, it’s spectacular.
You know how they say that we eat with our eyes? I almost didn’t want to eat them because they were presented so beautifully. But who are we kidding, this food needed to get into my belly STAT. The waffles were crisp on the outside, and light and fluffy on the inside, which to me is the perfect waffle. The whipped cream had a hint of vanilla and the fruit on top was all fresh and ripe. Combined with the blueberry compote and drizzle of syrup, each bite was tastier than the last.
What most impressed me was that none of the fruit was tart or under-ripe. I’ve had too many experiences of fruit on top of pancakes, waffles, french toast or granola being so tart that it makes me wince just thinking about it. I’m especially wary of grapes because those were always the worst offenders in my experience. There’s nothing worse than biting into a tart piece of fruit; no amount of sweetness within the rest of the bite lessens the tartness. So, the fact that all the fruit served on these waffles was perfect really speaks to the care that they put into their food. It’s this type of meticulous attention to detail that I truly appreciate.
Mark’s sirloin burger and salad were equally as impressive. It’s essentially a meat lover’s burger, topped high with bolognese sauce. I had a bite of the burger and it’s definitely one of the tastiest burgers I’ve had. The beef patty was moist and tender, the bolognese rich and meaty, while the crisp lettuce and tomatoes balanced out the savoury components with that bit of freshness. The salad was fresh and lightly dressed in what we thought to be a soy and miso-based dressing.
After finishing every last bit of food on his plate, Mark said, “that was dreamy”. Mark is what I call a “tough customer”, in that he’s pretty hard to please when it comes to restaurant food. The fact that he called his meal dreamy means that this food is some kind of magic. I later asked him to describe why it was so dreamy and he remarked (I’m paraphrasing) that the sirloin was high quality and tasted clean, the crisp lettuce was perfect to balance out the meat, and the bun was just right. I swear I saw a sparkle in his eyes when he was recalling this meal.
I’m sad to think that I passed by this place numerous times in the past without giving it much thought. I used to commute to work via Edmonton Trail until I found a quicker route, so I’m no stranger to CEREZO’s location. I only wish I had stopped in sooner. This place really is a gem, with an interesting menu, friendly staff, great coffee, and of course, the food is dreamy.
CEREZO Cafe & Bar
1002 Edmonton Trail
Calgary, AB T2E 3K2
Phone: (403) 250-8894
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Cerezo-cafe-bar/120321404785668