My Late Epiphany at Caffé Falai
All of my (two) previous experiences with Caffé Falai, the food has been delicious but I tend to think their service sucks since it’s been sloth-like. But I have reached a late epiphany with this place. It’s wonderful to eat here for breakfast and/or brunch.
The waitress never rushes you out; the loud, garrulous Italian gentleman, Enrico, greets you and assists you in your coffee and/or pastry order. You can linger here as long as you would like to. Heck, I stayed there for 1 1/2 hours for breakfast and that’s not normal for me. I guess because being a native New Yorker, weekday mornings and afternoons tend to be the mode of “get food now, eat, and go back to school.” It seems to me Caffé Falai’s philosophy is, “Take your time. Unwind and enjoy your stay here with really tasty food.” I concur with this idea. It’s just too bad that I don’t have that kind of time and serene life.
Back to the main focus, the food. Since it’s morning at 8 AM, I don’t want to eat another chocolate croissant (since I ate it before), I chose to seat myself near the windows, where there’s better lighting and ordered a meal here. Since I was left to think what the heck I want to eat (and that debate took a good 5 minutes), I opted for their “Baked Eggs with Tomato, Fontina and Basil” ($9) and a regular cup of coffee ($1.50) to start with. While I was waiting for these items, the bread plate appeared before me.
It’s a plate of lightly toasted, sliced foccacia. This bread is delicious. The slightly crisp, thin crust meets chewy, yeasty crumb. The olive oil flavor is also in there…just a slight. The dipping oil is fine; it just makes the bread tastier due to the added (good) fat.
After noshing on the foccacia for a couple of minutes, I just got a bit impatient waiting and just started to snap a few photos of their pastry case and bread rack. So here it is:
Look at all that lovely bread loaves…
Open faced sandwiches with fresh mozzarella
Various Croissants and Turnovers
Those took about five minutes to take, and lo and behold, my baked eggs and coffee has arrived.
What surprised me is that they served in a bubbling hot, white enamel cast iron bowl. The waitress warned me that it is hot. Obviously since today is a cold outside, the heat is certainly welcomed.
The whole point of that photo was to show that this darn thing is boiling incessantly.
I have read the recent New York Times article about Caffé Falai, and the author of that article, Mr. Meehan liked the baked eggs dish a lot (as there are other flavor variations of the baked eggs dish). I just realized as I’m typing this, he liked the one I ordered. I didn’t realize that until now… Anyways, this is really delicious eggs. The kitchen probably used at least half a dozen eggs layered with melted, stringy, gooey Fontina cheese, and tomato sauce simmering away, highlighted with little bits of chiffonade basil. It’s really a good way to have your morning to linger in a casual, very European pace. Oh, and the coffee is fine. It’s bold and strong but not mind blowing greatness.
Here’s a couple more of detail photos of the baked eggs for you to enjoy.
Stringy, melted Fontina cheese
Since I always want dessert or anything sweet. I wanted to try their Italian donuts, which is called the bomboloni. I asked if they have any but my waitress said, “No. The lady who does the delivery, didn’t show up yet.” To my disappointment, I asked for their dessert menu, which is the same one that I looked at for my “light” lunch, and inquired the difference between their mini chocolate fondant and the flourless chocolate cake. Her answer came along the lines of that the chocolate fondant is a small brownie and it’s a bit richer than the flourless cake. Since I love a good fudgey brownie, I ordered the mini chocolate fondant ($4).
Splitting it in half…
To reveal the innards
Well, this little brownie packs a chocolatey punch. It’s rich, decadent, and slightly sweet. The brownie itself is fine but with that added chocolate glaze gave it an extra sugary, chocolatey kick. I like this brownie; not love. But I like Bouchon Bakery’s Chocolate Bouchon more since it’s a sophisticated brownie, per se. Caffé Falai’s brownie is good but the texture throughout this brownie is soft and chewy, rather than thin crisp crust meets soft, fudgey innards (like Bouchon’s).
This was a good, long breakfast. And now I totally understand Caffé Falai.