Opening in early 2009, this is an unusual space in that most people cannot make it out: “Is it a café? Is it an event space? Is it a restaurant? Is it a wine bar?” Well, it’s all of the above inside an old, long, barn-like structure across from the diploma factory California Culinary Academy (CCA) across the street.
There’s some sidewalk seating in front of the space with more of a café space just inside — with flat-panel TV screens overhead, Portuguese cookbooks for sale, and a bit of Ritual coffee on display.
In the back, past the wine bar at the side and near the food and pottery items, is a space that is used as a Portuguese restaurant at night with projection movies. Decent Portuguese fare is hard to come by in these parts despite over a century of immigrants around the Bay: it seems you either have to get it at Tia Maria’s (short for: a Portuguese relative’s home) or down in San Jose along Alum Rock Road. However, they do an OK job here. Even if the coffee isn’t more of a Portuguese style.
Ritual not only roasts their coffee, but they even custom farm-source some of their custom blend coffee. When we visited, they were pulling single-origin espresso shots from Matalapa La Sidra, La Libertad, El Salvador from their three-group La Marzocco Linea. The resulting espresso has a good, sharp depth. While not as robust as what you might get directly from a Ritual Coffee Roasters café, it still has a bit of personality in the cup as a sharper, clearly Central American shot with more of a turpeny base. Served in wide ACF cups.
Back in their restaurant, they serve espresso and offer a coffee menu highlighting three different farms as French press coffees ($4 for a small pot, $8 for a large). Credit is due for taking their coffee seriously here: many of the best high-end restaurants in town don’t have a coffee service half as good in either thoughtfulness or execution.
Read the review of Horatius.
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