Cafe Attila – “The Best Restaurant You Have Never Heard Of”.
Café Attila is located in a small shopping center on San Ramon Valley Boulevard, next to Morgan’s Masonry Supply. Formerly known as City of D’Lights it is in reality a bakery/café but at 5pm every day it is magically transformed into a very appealing European style restaurant, strongly reminiscent of many bistros that Sylvia and I have visited in France.
By day, it is very much a typical casual bakery/café (although with far better quality pastries, cakes etc. then many) with a pleasant seating area, bare wood tables and chairs. In this guise they also provide a wide range of breakfast and lunch dishes.
At 5pm, the white tablecloths come out and the ambiance becomes much more intimate with quiet background music to complete the mood.
It was on a Friday evening around 6.30 that Sylvia and I chose for our first visit and we were immediately welcomed by the friendly staff and seated in the attractive dining room, which was set out as described above. It was reassuring to see a few tables already occupied with diners who appeared to be enjoying themselves although there was certainly space for more.
For an appetizer, we chose one of their small plates to share – braised pork belly which was served with arugula, toasted almonds and a blackberry-port wine reduction. The pork belly was crisp on the outside and melt in the mouth tender on the inside, while the reduction proved to be a perfect dressing for the arugula. Outstanding!
Looking at the entrees, I felt spoiled for choice but I finally settled on the duck breast that was served over green lentils with a grilled plum, rainbow chard and a tart cherry sauce. Duck is a perennial favorite of mine and this was cooked nicely, crisp on the outside and a little less rare than many chefs cook it. The grilled plum was a treat and the lentils and the cherry sauce completed it perfectly. I have to say that chard has never held any appeal for me though, but Sylvia happily relieved me of it.
Sylvia’s selection was the chicken and dumplings. The European influence was very apparent here and it was served over a yummy saffron spaetzle with pistachios and cippolini onions. Again a very tasty dish and not one that is not likely to be found in any other local restaurant.
Now we rarely have three courses when we go out for a meal but we were so impressed by this point (and well aware that Café Attila was noted for pastries etc.) that we shared a portion of bread pudding. This again was more akin to the kind of food we had enjoyed in Europe rather than the overly sweet version often served in local restaurants. Any sweetness here was delivered by the peaches that were baked into it and for once, Sylvia ate a good half-share, depriving me of my usual seventy-five percent.
I find it hard to say anything negative about Café Attila as our experience was so enjoyable. I should also mention that the wait-staff were also friendly and attentive. I can’t comment on the wine list as we brought along a bottle of William Hill chardonnay of our own to accompany our meal but I’m told that they do have a decent selection.
We will definitely be visiting again soon. You can check out their website and see their menus at CafeAttila.com.