Monday, April 26, 2010

Cafe con Chocolate

2100 South Norwood Street
Philadelphia, PA 19145-3411
(215) 952-6878

I have heard a lot about Cafe con Chocolate, but I had yet to venture to this neighborhood in search of good food. It is actually not the kind of neighborhood I go to for anything, except crossing through it en-route to other destinations. It rides the line between being dangerous and backwards, with a healthy sprinkle of run-down store fronts and litter. Cafe con Chocolate, however, appears like a mirage, popping up when and where you would least expect it, on Snyder, between 21st and 22nd. When I was greeted by a rainy Sunday, I decided it was time. Nothing soothes the soul, and loads down the gut like Mexican food for brunch.

When I walked in, there were two older women, who either were still intoxicated from the evening before, woke up early enough to be borderline belligerently drunk by 10 am, or some combination thereof. Given the location, I was hardly surprised. So I grabbed a seat at the rear, and took a look at the menu. Tap water sans ice was immediately brought over, but there was no coffee order taken. Considering there were two employees working front of house and (including my table and the previously mentioned) a total of four customers, I was hoping to receive some coffee quickly. This is one of the first things ALL breakfast/brunch places should consider top priority. When people are awake on the weekend, they like to be caffeinated. I understand this is not universal, but for the brunch crowd it is pretty standard. So the waitress proceeds to not come over for about ten more minutes, while I scour the menu. All the while, listening to a strange smooth jazz play list of contemporary covers, and watching a computer monitor slideshow of said waitress on a trip somewhere. Two more people showed up, and I was worried all was lost. Would coffee even be an option now that there were six customers?

Well the coffee did come, however the order was taken with the food order. One Cafe con Chocolate (coffee with chocolate) and one black coffee, which took the same amount of time to get to us as the food. A huge issue for me. On a rainy day (or any day) when I am at brunch, I want to be sipping my beverage while waiting for my food. I would understand if they were backed up at the barista counter, but they were not. It was a huge disappointment. So the food came, along with the coffee, which was now too hot to drink until after I finished my torta. Oh yea, I ordered the chorizo and egg torta. It came on a crusty loaf of bread, and was HUGE. The ingredients were all tasty and included, sour cream and beans on one side of the bread, with chipotle mustard dip on the other. Packed in between was queso fresco, mozzarella cheese, tomato, lettuce, onion, and avocado, along with the aforementioned chorizo and eggs. The eggs were moist and not over cooked, and the flavors were all there. I wish the chorizo had more bite/spice, as it was quite mild. Overall, this was a pretty great breakfast torta. It was hardly authentic, but it was good, and at $8, a generous portion.

My dining mate decided to be a bit more ambitious, and tried the huevos ahogados. It consisted of two eggs poached in salsa verde, with a side of refried beans, and chorizo was added to the order. On paper it sounded like it had potential (although I was skeptical), however in reality, it turned out to be a big flop. The dish lacked any kind of contrast of textures. It was basically a big bowl of warm salsa, with two poached eggs, some mashed beans, and chorizo. Everything in it was soft or chewy. It would have been a completely different story if there were some tortillas, or more reasonably, some chips served on the side. Or, perhaps even a spoon! Alas, there were none of the above, and the waitress then disappeared for about fifteen more minutes, and there was no longer any point. The flavor was there in this dish, but the execution was completely off point. There was no way to eat it, and the fork was very little help. It was a bowl of mush.

I like the idea of Snyder Ave. getting some love and offering something interesting besides the sadness that occupies most of the avenue west of Broad, but unfortunately, Cafe con Chocolate needs some work. I will try them again, but I will certainly have my coffee BEFORE I get there.

1 comment:

frankie said...

You sir, are wrong.