Du Cafe is more of a lunch and dessert setup, really, located at St. Clair Ave. E. and O'Connor. As I wander in for a visit late on a Tuesday morning, the place is totally empty but for me and a couple of employees. One of them disappears, and it's just me and the young dude behind the counter. He says it's busier when school is in session, because teachers make it a regular hangout. Still, it seems odd that the place is so quiet, although this stretch of O'Connor, peppered with hair salons, a children's clothing store, and a make your own wine shop, seems generally lacking in foot traffic.
It doesn't take me long to realize why it's dead in here. I ask the guy behind the counter what kind of coffee beans they use, and he tells me he doesn't know. 'We've got flavoured coffee..." he says. To be somewhat fair, he just started working there a week and a half ago. But still, bean brands are basic. I order an Americano ($2.50) anyway, and retire to a little table by the window to meditate on what I'll have for lunch.
As I sit and doodle, it seems odd to me again that the place is a ghost town. There's a friendly little sign letting customers know that everything is homemade and organic, and that they do delivery. Then, two sips in, I notice a hair in my mystery coffee. Caffeine fix nixed.
It's lunch time, though, and I'm hungry. So I decide to brave the menu, despite the unfortunate hair. Unlike so many cafes in the city, Du Cafe has lots of options by way of lunch eats. There are ham and roast beef sandwiches, as well as veggie options like grilled cheese or veggie and cheese. There are mini pizzas, too, which look great, but I'm in the mood for super comfort food, so I finally settle on baked macaroni and cheese ($8). It arrives at my table five minutes later...still completely frozen.
I feel like maybe it was just an unfortunate mistake, and lots of the other food looks really good. They sell mini dessert sandwiches on kaisers with berries and whipped cream, and chocolate options too. There are cheesecakes ($9) and cookies and tarts, too.
Although nothing went right during my visit, I'd like to chalk this up to an off-day. The service was friendly, but I can't call it "good" on account of the missteps. The dude heated the mac and cheese up for me again, and it wasn't awful, but the experience that is lunch was tainted. It was just too late to sit back and enjoy. I left grumpy, in need of a sandwich and a caffeine fix.
Make no mistake, Du Cafe has great potential. The décor is cute, they have free WiFi, there's both beautiful and interesting local art on the walls, and beaded necklaces by local artisans set up by the cash. Much of the food looks good; they just need to get the final prep down better, otherwise it's all for naught.
Photos by Kat Rizza.