This kiosk/cubby hole with old cigar branding on glass above the doorway has only a dry-erase marker menu inside giving away its name. (“The Sentinel“? Are they Michael Douglas fans or something?) A former cigar shop, and most recently an outlet of Enzo’s Italian Deli for a number of years, this tiny location opened in May 2008 by former Rubicon chef, Dennis Leary (that’s one more ‘n’ than the comic actor and noted “coffee-flavored coffee” advocate), who runs the also very small Canteen restaurant.
It has a simple, exceedingly short takeout menu — that doesn’t quite live up to its food billing (nice, a touch pricey, but nothing to write home about). So how’s the espresso?
They currently serve Mr. Espresso beans — not a bad choice. The management talks of switching to Four Barrel Coffee when their roasting operations become available. But given the state of things at Four Barrel, we might all be driving solar-powered hovercraft a la The Jetsons by then.
They serve espresso from a single-group Elektra machine at the Stevenson window side. The barista carefully pre-heats the for-here shotglass and essentially times the shot. She even took multiple tries to make sure she got it right — big points there. However, the resulting cup has only a thinner layer of a lighter brown crema. There’s a stiffness to it, but it’s too thin. Flavorwise, it tastes of a sharper spice, cloves, and a touch of tobacco — without much of any sweetness.
Given the pedigree, effort, and price that goes into the espresso here, we expected a lot more out of it. After all, you can get a much superior Four Barrel Coffee espresso for 25¢ cheaper (if you can put up with the upper Mission regulars around the Plasticuffs BART station). Mr. Leary may love tiny dining spots, but small size isn’t enough of a selling point here.
Read the review of The Sentinel.
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