Sunday, 7 September 2008

Cafe Bernardo

Cafe Bernardo is one of my favorite Sacramento restaurants. It's good food, it's consistent, and it's easy to find vegetarian options. The only complaint I hear from others is that it's too loud, but apparently my years of concert-going protect me here, because it's never bothered me.

The entrees sometimes change seasonally, but they generally have three vegetarian options -- a portobello sandwich, grilled polenta triangles, and a fettucine. The sandwich is among my favorites, with thin-sliced cucumber, fresh tomatoes, red onion, and greens. I wouldn't mind a heartier bun, but that always seems to be my problem -- I'm a whole-wheat junkie. It also comes with a pickle spear. If you want fries, order them on the side. They're great. Also available from the sides menu are mashed potatoes, potato salad, and sauteed spinach.

The grilled polenta triangles are my second favorite. The grilling leaves a nice crust on the outside of the triangles, which provides a nice textural contrast with the creamy polenta. The sauce is a hearty, chunky marinara, and the whole dish is sprinkled with fresh parmesan.

I don't generally have the fettucine, but I never regret it when I do, as it's always made with the freshest seasonal produce. Actually, Bernardo focuses on local, seasonal produce.

I wasn't aware of it until this evening, but their salads are also available without chicken and with tofu instead. I tried the Thai noodle salad, and was very pleased. It came with shredded zucchini and carrots, a sweet, peanutty sauce, and peanuts and tofu cubes. It was really lovely.

I love Cafe Bernardo for breakfast, too. My favorites include the Amaretto French toast, which is two fat slices of Bernardo's own crusty, fresh bread, covered in butter and sliced almonds. I'm also a sucker for the two egg breakfast, which comes with well-seasoned potatoes and more of that wonderful bread as toast. The jam on the tables is a delicious seedy berry jam (raspberry, I think). I also love the huevos rancheros, which don't really remind me at all of the huevos rancheros I've had at Mexican restaurants, but it hardly matters. The eggs are served on whole black beans with loads of a spicy, tomato-based sauce and topped with cotija cheese.

Oh, and finally, they have good desserts. I can personally speak for the ice cream, the chocolate cake, the black bottom cupcake, and the fruit cobbler. They also have delicious coffee drinks.

My meat-eating companions have either the skirt steak (gosh, I think that's right), a turkey sandwich, turkey burger or Niman ranch burger. Actually, my most regular meat-eating companion (my mom) usually has a salad or the polenta.

The service is cafe-style. You order at the counter, then they bring you your food. Even so, we almost always have attentive servers who stop by to ask how things are and whether we need anything else.


Beth said...

I am sure you have already figured this out, but Cafe Bernardo is also one of the baby-friendliest restaurants in town. The noise and the lights and the colors keep the baby entertained, the service is fast, and once the baby is eating table foods there are lots of good choices. We order the butter lettuce salad and Penny eats the avocado, goat cheese, and beets, and she is also a big fan of the fettucine and the polenta and the french fries. Oh, and the bread with olive oil. She loves that, as well.

(Sorry this is an ancient post, but I had forgotten about this blog!)

Count Mockula said...

I practically forgot about this, too!

Yeah, we generally love CB, although my mom appears to have gotten food poisoning there twice having eaten various chicken dishes. We haven't been back lately.

Beth said...

Oh, yikes. I rarely order chicken in restaurants (and never have it at home) because of food poisoning. I'm sorry that happened to your mom!

The midtown Bernardo has a waiter named Frank who is there on Friday nights, and he LOVES babies. It is one of our standard outings because Frank will keep Penny smiling and I can even have a glass of wine.