Restaurant Review

Restaurant Review

Pasatiempo  / February 2008
Santacafé
Filled with flat winter light, Santacafé’s minimalist gray-and-white décor creates the feel of barren northern climes, relieved by joy­ous, enthusiastic service and delicious food.

It was our most elegant $10 downtown lunch.

Co-owner Judith Ebbinghaus says she keeps the prices low at lunch to draw a good crowd — and the strategy works. I couldn’t pass up the free-range chicken potpie with an herbed buttermilk biscuit —  soft-cooked chicken in gravy with carrots and mushrooms and plenty of pepper. The biscuit, crisp on the outside and tender inside, combined with the filling to produce the ultimate comfort food.

A French dip on ciabatta — made that day, in-house — soothed and satisfied our cold bellies. The medium-rare roast beef, nestled into the loaf with a little horseradish aioli, came with dipping sauce    sparked with a little red chile and soy sauce. Warm potato salad was tossed in more aioli.

There’s a $9 combo with a half sandwich (yes, the French dip included), cup of soup, and a salad that offers solace and fresh greens in one meal.

Chef Angel Estrada, formerly the sous chef, has been at Santacafé for 14 years.

He worked his way up, learning from every chef he has worked under, starting with Ming Tsai. It looks as if he’s doing a great job, and I salute Santacafé for recognizing his dedication and talent.

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Make a Reservation | Gift Certificates