Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Tower Cafe

Tower Cafe is where we always take out of town guests. Why? Well, it has so much character! The entire place is covered in plants, textiles, art, ceramics, and colorful bits and pieces from various cultures and countries. I've been going there since they opened and have been probably hundreds of times, yet I can't imagine I've really seen everything on the walls.

It's also very veggie-friendly. Of ten appetizers, six are vegetarian. I especially love the poh pia, a vegetarian spring roll served hot with a plummy sweet and sour sauce. I also love their chile relleno, which comes as an entree as well. The chips and salsa are fine, but the salsa is extremely mild.

There are two vegetarian salads, the Mediterranean and Las Americas (I can't bring myself to type THE Las Americas). The Mediterranean is my clear favorite, with baby spinach, myzithra cheese, olives, onions... there are two dressing choices and I recommend the red pepper, as the herb vinaigrette is a little oily. It comes with triangles of spanikopita. Las Americas has seasonal mixed greens and vegetables, which usually are peppers, tomatoes, onions, and beans.

Tower Cafe makes its own veggie burger, the Earth burger. I have a love/hate relationship with it. It is a dense vegetable and oat patty loaded with veggies, and the fries that come as an option on the side are fantastic, especially with Thai glaze (which is extra). Unfortunately, it comes on a sad, white bun that falls apart under pressure. Such a hefty patty really requires a whole-grain bun, in my opinion.

There are two vegetarian entrees as well, the ravioli florentine and the chile relleno. I've had the raviolis only once, as they come in a pesto cream sauce, and I'm not much for cream sauces. I'll withhold judgment. The chile relleno dinner is, again, love/hate for me. The relleno itself is the best I've ever had. It is a big poblano pepper, breaded and fried until the outside is crunchy. It is entirely unlike any other relleno in that it is crunchy, not soft and eggy, and the pepper really has some heft instead of being mushy. The cheese mixture inside has currants and pine nuts in it, and I love the contrast of textures and the sweetness. But the beans and rice that accompany the dish are bland and uninspiring. I usually mix them together and add the pico de gallo to give them a little bit of extra flavor.

Two other things about Tower are of note. First, they have fantastic desserts. I am a chocaholic, so I generally get the El Diablo mountainous chocolate cake, a truffle, a chocolate "bombe," or something like that. But my husband and best friend recently tried a key lime tart and raved about it. Also, they have great breakfasts. The custard French toast has no local equal. Of course, that means that the place tends to be packed on the weekends at breakfast time, so be prepared to wait. Six or eight of the breakfast choices are vegetarian (if you don't like French toast, I recommend the Greek omelette), and the Eggs Tower can be prepared without the canadian bacon (I'm sure other items can as well, but I've seen several people order this dish vegetarian). They usually have muffins and scones in the bakery case. I'm not normally a fan of white chocolate, but I love the strawberry white chocolate scone.

The specials tend to be hit or miss. If you like the sounds of something, I say go for it. In general, I think their Asian-type dishes tend to be the least authentic and I avoid them.

They have an extensive drink menu, with a large variety of juices, tea, coffee, espresso drinks, beer, wine, Bloody Marys, hard ciders, etc.

In nice weather, the outdoor seating area is delightful. There are many more plants, creating a sort of oasis a few feet from the traffic of Broadway. Of course, most people choose to eat out there, so there can be a wait. Over the years I've heard complaints about bad service at Tower, but I've never personally had any. I think the reputation is undeserved.

My carnivorous dining companions like the Brazilian Chicken salad and the All-American burger.

I give it four of five Sackatomatoes.

Tower Cafe
1518 Broadway, Sacramento


Jenny said...

key lime tart. cashews. does it get any better?

Anonymous said...

creme brulee was to die for!!!!!!!!


gynagirl said...

I got sick of the rude service years ago & stopped going because of it. The food is good, but not good enough to compensate for the horribly rude wait-staff.