I showed up excited to try some food. Walked up to the counter to order, as there isn’t any wait staff (which is fine, I’m just saying), and enthusiastically asked the cashier/order taker, “What’s awesome here?” With an annoyed look down at me, and a slight, almost imperceptible sigh, she said, “I don’t know, I’ve only worked here for a few months…let me find someone who would know.” Still not disappointed, I waited for a different person to come over and talk to me (mind you, there are two people behind me now who are visibly annoyed that I didn’t just order and move along.) The second person rolled their eyes only slightly less when they told me what was good, and this is what she said:
“I always get the Niman Ranch burger, it’s really good…Ummm…people say they really like the mac and cheese, because we make our own cheese…and the chicken and some of the salads are good too.”
Ok, I thought, well, the service isn’t awesome, but maybe the food will rock! So I ordered the Niman Ranch Burger and the mac and cheese; I was eyeballing the sweets they had laid out next to the counter and saw that they had baklava (one of my favorites), so I asked, “Do you guys make this here?” she replied, “No, we buy it, but we bake our own cookies.” With that glowing praise of their cookies (not) I picked up a chocolate chip cookie and ordered a cold beer, with which no glass was offered to pour it into (I’m NO beer snob, frankly I rarely even drink beer…and even if I were offered a glass I would have, but I have friends that would have appreciated a chilled glass).
I ate the cookie and drank half the beer as I waited for a bit under-done burger with not enough blue cheese on it and slathered in caramelized onions not even warmed up again and would guess weren’t caramelized that day by the amount of water that was coming out of them and dripping off my bun. I opted for a side salad instead of fries, which was a basic side salad, nothing special. And in trying the mac and cheese with homemade cheese: I wasn’t impressed, it kinda tasted like noodles with Velveeta and cream with some toasted bread crumbs on top. It was fine, no doubt, but it wasn’t incredible by any means.
The ambiance was typical for a café, sounded by people on their computers and a group of girls kibitzing away, some local art hung on the walls for sale. Nothing memorable or something that would make me want to come back.
And I guess that sums it up: there was nothing there that would make me want to come back. The service wasn’t great, but not bad. The food, for the price, was subpar. If I had paid half as much, I may have put it at par. The ambiance was, I state, just regular and café like. In walking back from my experience I passed 6 (yes, I counted) restaurants that looked better and more interesting than the one I had just left. That being said, if I were giving it stars, I’d give it 2. I also wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t there in a year as well.
Occupation: Retired Legal Secretary
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Source Restaurant
Reviewed Morning Due Cafe: Friday, May 4, 2012
Morning Due Cafe is located on the corner of 17th Street and Church and, except for the green and white border along the top on the outside, does not particularly stand out. In fact, it is a rather ordinary space in a friendly neighborhood. There were bicyclists pedaling by, pedestrians on the sidewalks, and parking was not a problem...especially since someone walking by offered us her parking space!
The door to Morning Due Cafe is of dark wood with iron bars. Once inside, the space opens up. Art works are displayed for sale on the left side, while decorative clay vases line the shelves on the right. Along the left and right walls are upholstered bench seats in front of which are small square tables that can be separated for two diners or pulled together for larger parties. In the middle of the floor is additional seating at the same square tables, complete with sturdy wooden chairs with metal legs. A slowly rotating fan graces the rather high ceiling.
It was about 12:30 p.m. on a sunny Friday afternoon, and Morning Due Cafe was moderately filled with customers enjoying lunch at their laptop computers. One couple talked quietly together while looking at their screen. I was not expecting much by this first impression; however, that changed when I approached the counter along the back wall, above which was a large menu. My friend and I stepped back, craning our necks to view the menu, when the young woman behind the counter offered a laminated one-page printed menu, suggesting that we could take it to our table and return to the counter once we had decided.
It took us a while to peruse the menu because it had a lot to offer and everything sounded so good. We finally decided on a cucumber yogurt salad to share, the Niman Ranch burger for my friend, the vegan vegetable wrap for me, and two chai drinks. We approached the counter and once again were warmly greeted. As soon as our drinks were ordered, they were immediately started so that we could enjoy them while waiting for our lunch to arrive (a very thoughtful gesture). After paying for our lunch, we were presented with a number, which we carried to the table.
While we enjoyed our chai drinks, and after a rather brief but reasonable wait, our lunch arrived on white plates, with the place setting wrapped in a large white paper napkin. The burger was high as the sky! It was perfectly done (according to my friend’s request) and served on a fresh sesame bun with caramelized onions, blue cheese, tomato and a dark green leaf lettuce, accompanied by the chosen side of green salad. The salad came with a light balsamic dressing (sweet and lively). Because I do not eat meat, I did not taste the burger but I was assured it was the “best burger ever.”
My veggie wrap was very generous in size and contained roasted squash, lime rice, lentils, grilled tomatoes, roasted fennel and garlic sauce. The flavors complemented each other, the squash was lightly mashed, and there was just the right amount of garlic sauce so that the wrap did not get soggy and “unwrap” as I ate it. The side I chose was house potatoes, which were sautéed with roasted red peppers that imparted a mildly spicy flavor to the perfectly browned potatoes. I have never had such delicious “house potatoes.”
As our dishes were placed on the table, I suddenly remembered that I had neglected to order the cucumber yogurt salad and let out a gasp. I glanced at the counter where we had placed our order and, for a moment, was rather confused because I could not decide if I should order the salad to share or just let it go. Our server, seeing my momentary confusion, kindly suggested that she bring each of us a little taste, and she disappeared. Before we unwrapped our utensils, she presented each of us with a small dish of the cucumber yogurt salad, placing it gently on the edge of each of our plates. We were very impressed. The salad, however, was not very impressive. The cucumber, rather than thinly sliced, were in small chunks. The consistency of the yogurt and the amount of dill was fine, but we both felt there was too much garlic in the yogurt sauce.