Tag Archives: La Colombe

Stay Simple at Sabrina’s

I’m really a simple girl at heart.  Though I am always up for trying the newest dining trend, I am not really one for haute cuisine.  What I really love is simple, down-to-earth comfort food—food that reminds you of home, family, and friends.  So when my good friend Erika came to visit me in Philly, I recommended we try Sabrina’s Cafe—a place known for their fabulous brunch menu, featuring comfort food dishes kicked up a notch.

Because we had been forewarned of the notoriously long lines, we decided to wake up early and arrived at Sabrina’s around 10am on a chilly Saturday morning.  Though not terribly crowded, there was already a 30-minute wait.  None of us minded though, as we spent the entire time perusing the voluminous brunch menu.

Sabrina’s has two locations: the original is located on South St. and its second, slightly larger location is near the Art Museum.  While I can’t speak to the South St. location, the Art Museum location is warm and friendly.  It had a retro coffeeshop vibe to it, with wide counter seating, large booths, and a bright interior.  The crowd seemed to be very family friendly, with lots of strollers and high chairs being toted around.

Even after 30 minutes, my friends and I were at a loss when our waitress seated us and came to take our order.  The menu had so many appealing options, from stuffed French toast with bananas and vanilla bean syrup to sandwiches to omelettes galore.

We finally settled on huevos rancheros, a tofu scramble, and two of the (many) specials: French toast stuffed with cream cheese, nutella, and hazelnuts with a peach syrup on the side and a sweet potato-corn pancake wrapped around chicken, black beans, plantains, and peppers topped with a cilantro sour cream.  We also ordered La Colombe coffee (a local Philly roaster known for its dark roasts), which arrived in adorable oversized coffee mugs.

My friends and I really enjoyed the huevos rancheros and the tofu scramble.  The huevos rancheros ($10.99) included two fried eggs sitting atop 2 crispy blue corn tortillas, topped with a spicy chorizo sauce (which, in my opinion, could have been spicier), avocado, cheese, and pico de gallo salsa, with rosemary potatoes on the side.  All of the ingredients were fresh and well-prepared, making this a memorable version of huevos rancheros.

The tofu scramble ($7.89) was also excellent and flavorful.  The texture was strikingly similar to scrambled eggs (which most tofu scrambles don’t get right).  I was also impressed with—of all things—the toast!  Sabrina’s serves Le Bus multigrain bread, another local Philly establishment.

On the other hand, we were not so impressed with the specials.  The French toast itself was tasty: a rich, slightly chocolate mascarpone filling slathered between two huge slabs of brioche.  However, the peach syrup that accompanied the dish was a mystery to all of us.  It did not enhance the dish at all; in fact, it didn’t taste good at all.  And thank goodness our waitress warned us to order it on the side!  Even on the side, we received a behemoth bowl of sweet, fruity syrup that, had it been dumped onto the French toast, may have made the entire dish inedible.  I would have much preferred some good old-fashioned maple syrup, and perhaps less of the mascarpone filling.

The sweet potato corn pancake dish was also a letdown.  It was kind of a bizarre burrito, wrapped in a pancake instead of a tortilla.  But there were so many ingredients to the dish that they all seemed to overpower one another: heavily seasoned chicken, sweet plantains, zesty peppers, black beans, and cilantro sour cream.

One thing that I can’t complain about, though, is the portions.  You certainly get your money’s worth at Sabrina’s, even if the dishes are not spectacular.  Overall, I enjoyed my meal at Sabrina’s: the friendly atmosphere and appealing menu made for a lovely brunch.  The classic dishes seem to be Sabrina’s strengths.  It’s when the kitchen tries to do too much that the dishes lose their appeal.

Sabrina’s Cafe
(Fairmount/Art Museum)
1804 Callowhill Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 636-9061

Sabrina's Café and Spencer's Too on Urbanspoon

Cafe Lift Perks Up Your Mornings

I’ve never been a fan of brunch.  Waking up early on a Sunday and waiting an hour for some eggs benedict never had much appeal to me, especially after reading Anthony Bourdain’s harrowing account in Kitchen Confidential.  In short, brunch is not my fave.

After dining at Cafe Lift, however, some of my reservations about brunch have been lifted.  Located in Philly’s Spring Garden neighborhood, Cafe Lift is tucked among loft apartments and industrial warehouses.  On a Sunday morning, the area seemed abandoned except for Cafe Lift, which was bustling with hungry patrons.

The word “funky” certainly comes to mind when describing Cafe Lift’s interior. Contemporary paintings and quirky chandeliers add some fun and liveliness to the otherwise minimalist dining room.  Exposed ceilings and floors pay tribute to the area’s industrial feel.

The brunch fare is the real draw at Cafe Lift, where fresh ingredients and attention to detail set the dishes apart.  The menu is divided into savory stuff (such as eggs), sweet stuff (with decadent dishes like pumpkin cannoli french toast), paninis, and salads.  Since everything sounded so tasty, we had a hard time deciding what to order!

We finally settled on the buttermilk pancakes topped with strawberries and bananas ($7.50), the breakfast burrito ($8.50), and a side of spicy fennel sausage ($3.00).  The pancakes arrived under a pile of freshly cut fruit on top, dusted with powdered sugar.  The pancakes were light and airy, just the way buttermilk pancakes should be.  My only complaint (if you can even call it a complaint) was that instead of butter on the side, they gave us whipped cream.  Interesting, and not bad, but not what either of us were expecting.

The breakfast burrito ($8.50) was a behemoth of a burrito filled with scrambled eggs, roasted peppers, mushrooms, sweet onions, and jack cheese.  It was served with fresh pico de gallo salsa and homemade hot sauce, which added nice spice to the dish.  The burrito was so flavorful, and the freshness of each of the ingredients really shown through.  Though it was heavy, I powered through and finished the entire dish, potatoes as well!

The only disappointment of the meal was the spicy fennel sausage ($3.00).  I couldn’t taste the spice or the fennel, and it was cut down the center and cooked flat (see above photo, in the back).  Sausage, in my opinion, is supposed to be juicy and I thought by cooking it flat, it lost a lot of its flavor.

Our meal ended with the hugest cappuccino ever–and a steal for only $3.  Made with La Colombe coffee, a local Philly favorite, it was smooth and frothy, just as a cappuccino should be.

In short, Cafe Lift is sure to satisfy brunch lovers and haters alike with its fresh fare and moderate prices.  Weekend mornings just got so much better.

Cafe Lift

428 North 13th St.

Philadelphia, PA 19123

215-922-3031

Open Tues-Sun 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Cafe Lift on Urbanspoon

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