September 11, 2008

Cafe DeWitt

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Cafe DeWitt, tucked inside the DeWitt Mall just north of the Commons, offers up a cozy atmosphere for Saturday or Sunday brunch. The restaurant occupies an open space inside the building, with a back wall lined with large aquariums stocked with tropical fish to gaze at (not eat).
Make sure you find a corner table if you want intimacy since the tables on the periphery face out to a hallway that has light foot-traffic. As I was eating, three or four different friends passed by to chat, most of them going to the nearby Bookery. On the weekends, it’s often an enclave for the grad student crowd working off their hangovers or just hanging out, taking a break from too much work.
Menus for weekend brunch differ from the usual weekday fare. In addition, there are always plentiful daily specials on the weekends, written in chalk on big boards on either wall. Brunch typically features options such as almond challah French toast, blueberry pancakes with a side of eggs and a wide variety of both familiar and inventive omelets. Many of the ingredients are local, and although they do offer meat (such as chicken-sausage), most brunch items are vegetarian friendly. Well-behaved dogs are sometimes found underneath tables on the far side of the hallway, too.
I chose the Saturday TexMex omelet, which included generous chunks of avocado inside, with rosemary baby potatoes and salsa. The TexMex didn’t have the presentation of many of the other omelets I have eaten there before — it was a gooey blob of egg, cheese and veggie chunks, unlike the neatly folded omelet-pockets I was used to. Nonetheless, it tasted great, especially with the mild salsa slathered on top. The potatoes were tender and succulent. The omelet, though, didn’t quite fill me up. Usually I get a bread basket for an appetizer, which comes with a variety of breads and pastries; this time, I had bypassed it.
Happily, however, that left room for me to try the apple-pear chutney on an oatmeal currant scone for dessert. I was a bit flummoxed by the chutney, which tasted a tad tangy, which left a harsh vinegar aftertaste and didn’t have the fruit texture I was expecting. Its zing overpowered the scone, but may have been perfect on sourdough.
When I asked the waitress about it, though, she realized she had brought me the tomato chutney by mistake, and then, apologizing, quickly brought out the apple-pear, which had a mild sweetness that complimented the scone much better. It made me realize how much of what we taste is based on our expectations.
The service was friendly and unassuming; the waitress was happy to make a little small talk and bring endless refills of coffee and water. Be aware, though: the cafe can get packed during peak hours for Sunday brunch, especially as larger groups crowd in, and you often have to wait in line to get a table. A typical brunch meal, including coffee and an appetizer or dessert, will run between $12-16.
The delicious, ever-changing selection of omelets and the laid-back setting make Café Dewitt a great place to laze away a relaxed late Sunday morning, making it worth a trudge down the hill. It’s sure to fulfill your expectations.