BY SAM MCLAUGHLIN
The lot at 101 San Anselmo Avenue, between the and the venerable , has hosted various ill-conceived businesses over the last few years, but none of those survived long. Now, has moved into this space.
I paid a visit to find out if it has the potential to buck the trend and become a lasting establishment in the community.
The restaurant has a pleasant atmosphere, although slightly noisy. Apart from a pair of bizarre wall hangings made from mirrors, the aesthetic is neat and modern. Soft, yellow-tinged lighting complements the look well. There are many seating options – both tables and counters indoors, as well as additional tables outside.
The Café offers a variety of salads, sandwiches, and pizzas. The menu has a selection of red and white wines, and beer is available. The bakery serves coffee, tea, and juices. I ordered the Caesar Salad, with Parmigiano-Reggiano and house croutons for $7.00, and the Parisian Sandwich with French ham, Gruyere cheese, butter and Dijon mustard for $8.00.
The staff was friendly and seemed very attentive, so I was surprised when my sandwich arrived ten minutes later without the salad. I assumed that the salad was simply taking longer, and began digging into the first part of my order.
The sandwich consisted of thin slices of ham and cheese stacked neatly between two pieces of flaky bread. The Dijon mustard was enough to impart some much-needed flavor to the combination, without being overpowering. Although the bread looked as if it might be tough, it was instead crisp and light. The result was a tasty sandwich that was more filling than I expected. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this item.
The sandwich was served with a small bowl of vegetables, including carrots, olives, and pickles. I found this to be a confusing choice. I’m not entirely sure how these had been prepared, since they weren’t listed on the menu and didn’t seem to have any relation to the sandwich, seeming like an afterthought. The sandwich was good enough to stand alone, and the vegetables were an unnecessary attempt to fill space on the plate.
However, by that point I had a suspicion that my salad had been forgotten. This was confirmed when a waitress brought me my check. To the staff’s credit, the missing salad was promptly delivered after I brought it to their attention, but the bungling of such a simple order was disappointing.
The Caesar Salad was unremarkable. It was fine—the lettuce tasted fresh, the dressing was as expected and the croutons were crunchy—but there was nothing to distinguish it from any other Caesar Salad in any other restaurant. It wasn’t bad, just bland. It would be nice if the house-made croutons were cut a little larger, so that their flavor could be appreciated more.
After finishing my meal, I examined the bakery options. The bakery offers slices of cake, cupcakes, various cookies, tarts, fresh bread, and more. I purchased a carrot cupcake for $3.50.
The cupcake was easily the highlight of the meal. It was soft, fluffy, moist, and topped with a delicious cream-cheese frosting that’s one of the best I’ve ever tasted. The combination of flavors was perfect. Once I finished it, I immediately wished I’d bought a second. I would return to Sweetlife just to eat another cupcake.
On the whole, I think Sweetlife is here to stay. The inviting atmosphere, appetizing food, and reasonable prices should prove to be a big draw, despite the kinks in the service. The staff seemed eager to help, so I’m confident that the service will only improve. It would be nice to see a slightly wider selection, both on the menu and in the bakery, but I enjoyed my meal—especially the dessert. I would gladly eat at Sweetlife again.
What do you think of the new bakery/cafe?