I randomly stopped at City Café when I was downtown the other day. I remember a couple of people recommending it to me and looking at the menu, it looked very appealing. I walked in a little after noon on a weekday, and while it is a fairly small place (probably 12-15 tables), all but one were full (and it was being cleared). The place stayed full the entire time I was there, which always (ok, usually) is a good sign for me.
So they have a homemade soup of the day (well, they call it “yesterday’s soup, because we all know it’s better the next day”) and on the day I was there it was chicken and rice, which is always one of my favorites. So I ordered “the tenderloin” sandwich and substituted a cup of the soup for my chips. (Sandwich is $9.50, sub soup +$2.75). The soup was not what I was expecting, but it was very good. The server told me it was a little on the spicy side, and I was sort of imagining you classic heat. But actually, it was spicy, as in had a lot of unique and different spices from what I was expecting. It had a kind of almost Indian flavor to it—tasted like it had curry as well as turmeric in there as well (and based on the color). There were some pieces of chicken and lots of soft rice as well as some veggies—I noticed mainly carrot and some mushrooms. So, it did have a fair amount of spice, although not in the heat way you normally think of “spicy” and the more I ate it, the more I wanted. I really liked it.
The sandwich was one of the best I have had in awhile, and probably one of the best steak sandwiches I have ever had. It was grilled roast beef, most of it very rare, with caramelized onions, bacon, and blue cheese on sourdough that was buttered and toasted. It was a perfect sandwich. The meat was so tender, it practically melted in your mouth, and there was a fair amount of super soft (actually caramelized) onions with lots of black pepper flavor. The bacon was good, although was probably a bit unnecessary, but who is going to argue about gilding the lily with a little bacon? And it was all balanced with just the right amount of blue cheese to cut the over the top rich meatiness. And it was evenly spread across the bread, giving you a bit of the blue cheese in every bite of the sandwich. And they even went the extra mile to make sure the bread was great too by taking the time to butter and toast it. So, I only ate half since I had eaten the soup and was getting full, and also because I am the nicest wife in the world and wanted hubby to try it. I rushed it home to him for him to try, and he promptly declared it “freakin’ awesome.” He had already eaten his lunch but said no way would he let this sandwich go to waste and ate every bite.
The other thing that impressed me was that while the menu said each sandwich comes with a dill pickle spear (which it did), they didn’t mention the lovely slice of a beautiful meaty orange tomato. Usually I completely ignore tomatoes as garnishes on plates because they are usually crappy, but this one looked really good, and tasted really good.
The service was a touch slow for me, although they were quite busy, so I assume maybe this was the problem. I don’t think it was just me though as I watched several other people wait awhile for service. However, after eating the food, I think it is worth the wait and I am excited to try other items on the menu (they also do breakfast, which is always a challenge around town). They state on the menu that they use local ingredients from local farms, which of course is always a good thing as well. It’s funny. Obviously people know about this place based on the crowd, but I haven’t heard a lot of people talk about it. So, have you ever been there?
443 North Pennsylvania Street
(they’re on facebook)