Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Axis Cafe

Almost two years ago, I attended a friend's wedding reception at Axis Cafe.  Then I promptly completly forgot about the venue, until I saw that they were listed on LevelUp.  They operate as a regular cafe during the week, and are open for brunch on weekends, but then offer a private event space on weekend nights.

The space is fairly memorable, particularly the outdoor back garden.  A large area, complete with heat lamps, fairly unique in San Francisco.  They also have interesting seating inside, with a fireplace in the middle of the room, surrounded by couches.  On one visit, there were no tables available, so they seated us on the couches.  It was slightly awkward to eat at the couches, but a really fun, casual, atmosphere, almost like being in a friend's living room.

The LevelUp experience however was not good.  Their phone was not charged, and so we had to wait at least 5 minutes while they charged it up, powered it on, etc.  Had it been one of my first times using LevelUp, I would not be a repeat customer.  It is too bad, because it is not LevelUp's fault that businesses handle it so poorly.

Anyway.  The food wasn't very good at the wedding, nor on my other visits.  I won't be going back.
Mac & Cheese, side order,  take out. $4.
This was incredibly unremarkable mac and cheese.  Perhaps remarkable in how banal it was.  The macaroni was cooked well enough, a little over, but that seems more acceptable in mac and cheese than in a regular pasta dish.  There was melted orange (cheddar?) cheese on top, and the sauce was creamy and white.  It looked so promising.  But, there was no flavor to it at all.  There was clearly cheese there, but I honestly didn't taste it.  There was also no seasoning.  And no breadcrumbs or anything.  Totally and completely banal.

A decent portion size for $4, but I would not get this again.
Almond French Toast, Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese, Roasted Yellow Peach, Vermont Syrup. $10.
On another occasion, we chose to dine-in.

I'm a sucker for good french toast, but so often am disappointed   I want it to be thick slices, eggy and custardy on the inside, caramelized and crispy on the outside.  And bonus points for delicious compotes, sauces, fruits, nuts, etc to go with.  The most memorable version I've ever had still comes from Baker & Banker: a french toast bread pudding with stewed apples and quince, crème fraîche whipped cream, and candied pecans.  ZOMG that was good stuff.

Anyway, 7x7 recently published an article about the top 7 french toasts in San Francisco, and the Axis Cafe version was on there.  So I had to try it.

It was better than it looked, but not that great.

The bread was brioche, my favorite choice for french toast.  And it was thick slices, another winning point.  However, it wasn't very eggy and not at all custardy.  There was some subtle cinnamon spicing. It did have a lovely caramelized seared crust on the bottom, a good touch.

It was coated in almond slivers, which added some crunch and nice flavor. Then there were thin slices of roasted peaches.  They were soft and might have been nice, but were completely flavorless.  Peaches are not in season.  Why is anyone serving peaches in November?  They should have been switched out for pears, persimmons, or apple compote months ago.

Next was the vanilla bean cream cheese.  I wasn't a fan.  I love a cream component with my french toast.  Whipped cream, crème fraîche, crème anglaise ... bring it.  And I like cream cheese, and often lament that it is strangely reserved for bagels most of the time.  I use flavored cream cheeses on waffles all the time.  And cream cheese stuffed french toast can be pretty tasty.  But this just didn't work for me.  Perhaps it would be better if it was a whipped variety?  It just had a strange mouthfeel, no real vanilla flavor.  I think the dish would have been far more successful with something else in its place.

We were also provided with a little pitcher of real maple syrup.  Not high quality, but at least distinguishable from corn syrup based pancake syrup.

Overall, not horrible, but not worth getting again.  $10 price was fine.
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