Decorated to its Victorian hilt in glossy licorice ebony and cool white marble, Cafe Chloe completes its Parisian portrait with surrealistic sprinklings of Man Ray photographs on the walls.
Arriving in plenty of time for Sunday brunch, we perched on high spindly chairs at a towering marble-topped table and looked around at the chalkboard announcing their cheeses of the day (very respectable collection of Epoisses, a Basque sheep, and a cave-aged Gruyère), their glistening case burgeoning with flakey pastries, and many guests enjoying their food and one another. Before I even took a bite or a sip it hit me, I was in love. The atmosphere itself was an amuse bouche. Happily, the food delivered what the decor promised. Sheer heaven.
Poached Eggs with Mushrooms and Sage-Truffle Beurre Blanc
Smoked Trout and Apple Salad with Roasted Fingerlings and Almonds
Nothing makes a brunch so sublime as when you haven't indulged in eggy, buttery things for quite some time. After sharing a blue cheese and mushroom tarte (could cut that crust with the edge of a fork, perfect!) with my husband, I sunk into my poached egg with mushrooms and sage-truffle beurre blanc. Whenever I eat poached eggs, I play a little game of meticulously gobbling up the fragments of soft white surrounding the bubble of yolk before finally breaking into the quivering hump with a tine and allowing the yolk to seep slowly out in a burnished river. My husband's smoked trout salad was delicious. The quietly kippered fish and the crisp green apples introduced themselves to mealy, creamy roasted potatoes and had a party in my mouth.
Though we were getting pretty near to the brim, we had to try one of the pastries that had been staring us down all morning. Although I am not really a melon person, I was very intrigued by the idea of a honeydew and nectarine tartine, so we tried it. A snowball of homemade vanilla bean ice cream slightly moistened the semi-puffed edge of the pastry, and I discovered that when you pair melon with buttery, flaky pastry I turn into a melon person after all.
Our host was affable and genial. He was excited to answer all our questions and quick to compliment our choice of food and wine, but earnestly and not in an oily or obsequious way. To extend the experience, there's even a boîte of a giftshop tucked into one of the corners of the cafe. I spent a few yearning moments browsing among soaps, porcelain dishes, and stiff straw vintage wine totes before securing myself of a little piece of Cafe Chloe to bear home as a thank-you gift for our pastry-making, cheesemongering cat sitter.
721 Ninth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Tuesday to Friday 7am-10pm