Cafe Bernate is easy to miss with its modest stony grey exterior. On a recent visit, owner Angelo Cassani greets me and I feel like I've entered a 1970's grandmother's house. The circular shaped lavender tables and creamsicle and mint-green coloured walls are groovy.
I start with an organic tropical green tea ($2.50) and it comes in a large rustic orange mug with a silver spoon. The fresh coffee options are reasonably priced. An espresso or Americano goes for ($2) while cappuccinos and lattes start at ($3-$4). Cassani uses Kenyan beans and coffee addicts can take home their own Kenyan coffee beans ($15) or Kenyan coffee grounds ($8). While there's no Wi-fi access, there's minimal noise and it's a good space to get some work done.
My friend and I decide to order the sandwich and soup special ($8.50) of the day. The sandwich is filled with prosciutto, spinach, mushrooms and goat cheese on multigrain bread. The warm soup is a fresh zucchini and tomato type minestrone with an extra piece of bread on the side. With each bite, we declare the sandwich delectable. The creamy goat cheese and warm mushrooms complement the savory cured meat and earthy spinach. The extra piece of bread is perfect for dipping in the soup.
Cafe Bernate offers a myriad of sandwich options to satisfy a grumbling stomach. With 30 sandwich options including the chicken, brie and asparagus sandwich on an Italian baguette or the Thai vegetarian sandwich, the possibilities are almost endless. A regular sized sandwich is ($6.95) and a large is ($8.95). Add a cup of soup or side salad for only ($2.50).
In business since 1991, Cassani explains that he has no intentions of changing locations or opening up another shop. He has a strong loyal customer base, and it's apparent in how he greets most customers by first name. He explains that the same kids who used to come in with their parents now come in with kids of their own.
The soft jazz music in the background is soothing and the conversations overheard are revealing. After receiving a sandwich, a customer declares this lunch just made her day. A woman and her toddler arrive and Cassani addresses them both by name, and already knows what they want to order. In the back room there's more seating space in the form of mismatched retro dining sets with vinyl studded upholstered chairs. There's a tiny patio that opens to the back alley when the weather is warm.
Cafe Bernate is open from Monday-Saturday from 11am-5pm.