Palo Alto Baking Company – 3/5
Food – 2/5
Eh. My nonfat latte, while made with pretty good coffee and topped with a super-mountain of foam (who doesn’t like foam?), was lukewarm when it arrived at the table. I was too caffeine-deprived to complain at the time, but I wouldn’t seek this place out for its espresso drinks. The delicious-sounding “California” breakfast sandwich – eggs, mushrooms, avocado, cheese, tomatoes, and sprouts on a croissant – gave me a mixed reaction. The croissant, which the cashier recommended in favor of the sandwich alternatives (whole wheat bread or fresh bagel), was a godsend of warm, flaky, buttery goodness. Unfortunately, it was a little too flaky to support such a hefty pile of eggs and veggies, and I ended up eating most of the filling with a fork. The sprouts were piled on too heavily, making eating even less graceful and overwhelming some of the other, more pivotal ingredients. When I realized that this quick brunch was about to turn into a 3 hour-long study sesh, I ordered a slice of their famous mocha-licious cake — I will never do so again. It was awkwardly tall and a little dry, making it very difficult to slice off manageable bites without sending the whole thing toppling, but the buttercream frosting was very nice. The cake wasn’t overly sugary-gross-sweet, at least until you realize that the slices are gargantuan and could probably send Andre the Giant into a sugar crash. Beware. If you’re looking for a birthday cake, I’d stick with Prolific Oven.
Service – 5/5
Nothing to complain about on this end! Like I mentioned, the cashier made the sage recommendation that I order my sandwich on a croissant, and all the ladies behind the counter were very helpful and attentive when I had questions about the menu. Everything was served very promptly and cleared from the table when I was done (without my having to wave anyone down).
Price – 4/5
Breakfast sandwiches run from for $3.50 your basic egg-and-cheese to $5.25 for the more complicated California sandwich (see above). Hot and cold lunch sandwiches go for $6-7, and entrée-sized salads cost about $8. You can also get a soup and ½ sandwich combo for $6.25, or salad and ½ sandwich for $5.25.
Location and Setting – 4/5
It was surprisingly quiet at 1 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, though a few family rushes came through later. I had no problem finding a comfortable 2-person table at which to hunker down with Ferdinand Marcos (the subject of my latest presentation for Spanish 12R) for a few hours. The café itself doesn’t seem to have wi-fi, but there are so many open networks on California Avenue that you shouldn’t have trouble finding one to hook up to if necessary.
Good for... days when Joanie’s Café and the Prolific Oven both have lines out the door.