Joanie’s Cafe – 4.5/5
There are few better ways to recover from a Thurstier-Than-Intended Thursday than a brunch, gossip, and philosophical musings (no, really) with that long-lost friend whose schedule finally coincides with yours. Likewise, there are few better places to find such a brunch than on California Avenue.
Food – 5/5
Although the goat cheese omelet and Mexican scramble were both extremely tempting, a nagging nostalgia for the Parisian mornings of abroad quarters past drew mon amie et moi towards splitting a magnificent Crêpe Bretonne with a side of fresh seasonal fruit and coffee. The fluffy, tasty crêpe was wrapped in a delicate package around a two-egg scramble with chicken-apple sausage and sautéed onions and mushrooms, and topped with two thin slices of Brie. It was perfect for the two of us (since our appetites were still recovering from the activities of the previous evening), and the perfect start to a (kind of) productive and (mostly) healthful weekend.
Service – 4/5
There was nothing particularly outstanding about the service, but nothing negative worth noting either. Though, did I mention the endless coffee refills? Could be a deal breaker in Joanie’s favor.
Price – 4/5
The crêpe (served with your choice of hash browns, home fries, or fruit) was $9.95, bottomless coffees were $2, and we tipped 15%. Omelets, scrambles, and crêpes all run in this range; members of the pancake and French toast families are a bit cheaper and looked delicious as well! All things considered, it’s very reasonably priced, especially when split… they don’t judge college kids for pulling that kind of thing, do they? More importantly, do we really care?
Location and Setting – 5/5
When the owners divorced some years ago, it was ironically Joanie’s husband who maintained ownership of Joanie’s, while Joanie took over the slightly more upscale Café Brioche down the street. Eventually, the husband moved back to France, leaving Joanie’s in the care of one of the managers. The café relocated somewhat recently from its little home in the center of the block (where it’s since been replaced by Pastis Bistro, to which I will definitely pay a visit sometime soon) to a new corner spot. I never visited the original location, but the corner situation has what I think must be a superior view of California Avenue goings-on, like the young mother who gave up parallel parking and parked half her minivan on the curb, or the adorable old couple who took five minutes to get out of their car. (Clearly, these things are best viewed from the counter at the window, but there is also a more formal dining room with both booths and free-standing tables.) Behind us at the interior counter, two old Frenchmen were discussing le Moyen Âge. Too good, mes amis. Too good.
Good for… an unrushed recovery (or even regular) brunch. I hear they also serve a lovely dinner, which may be very worth exploring, given the quality of their breakfast.
Joanie’s Cafe – 4.5/5