It was a year ago that we posted a review of Cafe Madeleine on O’Farrell St., near Union Square. And since we’re overdue for a Trip Report, and since I’ve been terribly lax (inept?) about taking photos at some of my more recent café visits, it’s time to dust off some “old” photos for a Trip Report of Cafe Madeleine’s South of Market St. sister location. (It beats photos of a burned down Warming Hut where now only hot dogs are available outside.)
This location is the newest of what was once a small-but-expanding downtown chain of French café/bakery/confectioner shops. I say “once” because no others have opened downtown since this location did in 2004. But like the others, the staff here run about in their white “labcoats” (a bizarre sort of staff/customer reversal from the Delta Café in Lisbon’s Vasco da Gama mall that I posted on last year). And true to their other locations, this café has characteristic high ceilings and limited seating among small tables.
Using their typical three-group Faema E91 Ambassador (from Mr. Espresso), they produce an espresso with a properly concentrated volume … dare I say even “ristretto” short. (Add just 25¢ for a double.) It has their typically swirling, darker, thick crema. The flavor consists of tobacco and a sharp herbal pungency that sometimes borders on bitterness, but in the past year it’s been pleasantly sweeter. This results in a flavorful cup with real boldness, and it has finally attained much of the sweetness it once lacked.
Why they sometimes serve a single espresso in a large styrofoam-paper paper cup is still beyond comprehension. Their more recent switch to large paper cups isn’t much better. A classic case of an establishment thwarting their otherwise decent espresso by not taking their serving of it very seriously. Their milk-based drinks aren’t too bad, although the foam bubbles can run a touch large.
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