Cafe Eugene 1175 Solano Ave./Stannage Ave., Albany, (510) 647-9999. L M-Thur, Br F-Sun, D daily. Featuring a woodsy interior that accents the Pacific Northwest lean of the menu, this new spot is particularly popular for breakfast and brunch. One of the owners is from Eugene, Oregon, and was inspired by the Chez Panisse-like former Excelsior Cafe there, which I remember visiting in the 1970s and ‘80s. Three big wood booths each will accommodate six people, and large windows revealing the exterior action give it a cafe feel, and a nice little sheltered dining area is out on the sidewalk in front. Items on the menu that most give a nod to the north include delicate house-cured salmon and drinks mixed with marionberry liqueur--a I-5 High Five gin cocktail and marionberry mimosa. Coffee is Catahoula’s smooth Lola blend. My brunch choice was Green Eggs & Sam, which consisted of a perfect toasted biscuit topped with really good eggs scrambled with greens, some of that delicious house-cured salmon, and a lemony sauce--all topped yet again with a fanned sliced avocado half. I would definitely order this tasty green dish again, but next time I would ask for the biscuit on the side with some butter and jam--it was just too delicious to not enjoy on its own. My dining partner had the daily scramble mixed with asparagus and pecorino cheese and served atop smoky grilled Acme bread. We shared a side of cute little cubes of perfectly crisped home fries topped with a nicely spicy horseradish sauce, no ketchup needed. Though the bowl of fresh fruit contained a variety of pit-fruit and berries and the shredded apple accent was a pleasant surprise, the boring presentation was a disappointment. Items here are fresh and unusual. If you want “the usual” you’ll need to extract it a la carte from the sides menu--two farm eggs any style, home fries, bacon. I don’t know where we found the space, but we indulged in strawberry shortcake for dessert, which was made with one of those fabulous biscuits topped with macerated strawberries and whipped cream. The lunch and brunch menus are almost identical, except lunch drops the egg options. Dinner adds on some more substantial items, including mussels and steak. One of the most popular items then is a shareable platter of smoked salmon, pickled vegetables, and hard-boiled eggs. Bread is served by request.
|exterior of Cafe Eugene in Albany, California|
|interior of Cafe Eugene in Albany, California|
|marionberry mimosa at Cafe Eugene in Albany, California|
|Green Eggs & Sam + more at Cafe Eugene in Albany, California|
|strawberry shortcake at Cafe Eugene in Albany, California|
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