Whenever I move to a new city, I like to familiarize myself with the places that are truly instrumental to my health and happiness – local bakeries. I don’t care what anyone says, Bakery Tours are the best way to acquaint oneself with a town. How could anyone doubt the benefits of a little exploration and a lot of baked goods? Since I moved to the bay area, I’ve been slacking on the bakery tour because I already knew of one bakery whose pastries I’d come to worship over the years. This entry is not about that bakery. Instead, I found today’s destination as an assignment from my dad, whose food research rivals those who actually get paid to do it. So, I took myself to Café Fanny. It’s not so much of a bakery as an eatery, or some synonymous word for “cute little place that serves somewhat pretentious but very tasty food.” For more on the establishment and its history, check out their website here.
Not to keep you in suspense, I’ll give the brief version right now: great breakfast place for a very European-feeling poached egg on toast and a latte that’s served in a bowl instead of (gasp) a mug with any sort of handle. Would I recommend it to people? Certainly, though it seems best for an individual or group of two, rather than a family or party of friends. Would I go again? I’ve almost undoubtedly found a new place for my weekend café rotation. Are the baked goods exquisite? To be honest, those showcased in the café seemed under-emphasized, but that’s because the café is situated directly next door to Acme Bread, which provides both sweet and savory delights that will send any bread appreciator (there should be a term for it – a “panthusiast”?) into raptures.
People around the bay area are very into their food, and I shant deny that there is a certain level of snobbery in all of Berkeley when it comes to eating. But that being said, Café Fanny is surprisingly accessible – at least, until the crowds show up (for me that was about 10:30 on a Saturday morning). Don’t bother asking for a nonfat latte, though, because they only have lowfat milk. So if you’re jonesing for a highly customized but high-quality cup of coffee, any nearby Peet’s Coffee is still your best bet. From a practical perspective, it’s best to arrive on the early side if you’re going for breakfast and don’t feel like standing in line. Standing at the counter to enjoy your steel-cut oatmeal or your buckwheat crepe with fruit and organic yogurt is definitely the preferred option. I ordered poached eggs on toast which, as you can see, were perfectly formed (and as you can’t see, were perfectly cooked – hooray). If you’ve ordered coffee, it will arrive at the counter almost certainly long before your food, so you have something to sip as you wait. My latte was soothing and not at all bitter, but also not extraordinarily hot. Keep in mind, I’m biased, and would rather scald myself on a drink that have it lukewarm. But its heat level was fine when I started drinking it – the large surface area of the bowl was certainly the cause of the heat dissipation over time.
The poached eggs arrived on beautiful buttered toast with a bit of salt and pepper sprinkled on top. The bread is a marvel in itself, certainly. And Café Fanny’s eggs were just what I wanted, though I am anxious to try the oatmeal next time. All in all, I greatly enjoyed the eating experience, topped off by a small “rye raisin rabbit” (a rye bun with raisins in it) from the Acme Bread bakery next door. Altogether, my latte and poached eggs ($6.25 by themselves) totaled up to $10.88, which I found reasonable, but I’ll probably just get food next time and enjoy a coffee afterwards.