coupa cafe in palo alto for light dinner (longish)
i had a lovely dinner at coupa cafe last night. it's highly recommended for a casual date if you're not very hungry but want to talk for a long time.
what we ordered:
carmelo patti malbec $8.50/glass
prosciutto panini "san daniele" $7.50
chamomile tea ?
turkey swiss panini ?
mayan hot chocolate ?
i think i made the better choices of the evening. the prosciutto panini was fantastic with a good amount of prosciutto, tomato, some greens and a bit of mayo. ahhh prosciutto-y, fatty lushness. i would have wanted more salad on the side with less dressing (also mayo based) to cut the prosciutto a bit. panini was big enough to fill me up. the malbec was very yummy, berry, smooth, not tannic but not at all sweet, and spicy woodsy. i bought another glass.
my date's turkey panini was less luscious, but the turkey had a nice roasted, non packaged taste. the panini hadn't been pressed for long enough so the cheese hadn't melted at all, which was sad. he ended up having some of my panini. his chamomile came in a gorgeous little pyramid that enhanced the esthetic experience.
the hot chocolate we shared was incredible- a little spice, not sweet, very rich, but not overwhelmingly so. adult hot chocolate.
coupa also has arepas (the one i've liked is the reina pepiada-chicken and avocado, they don't add enough salt though) and great pastries, breakfast food all day (waffles, eggs), and chuao chocolates. the coffee is an experience. beautiful high ceiling in the back, some couches, patio in front encourages lounging. sky light during the day and fireplace at night. it's always crowded with lots of students on lap tops.
you can end up spending as much as you would at a restaurant (like i did, esp with the wine), or you can go the cafe route and just have a drink and something to nibble on.
Thanks for the report. I stop by occasionlly for the Chuao parchitas but I haven't eaten there yet.
The spicy Mayan hot chocolate is by Chuao as well. I love it.
The tea is called Tea Forte and you can see a picture of that unusual little triangle tea bag if you follow the link to the Tea Forte website below.
I don't think there is a more pretentious, underflavored, over hyped product than Tea Forte. I felt so ripped off paying $5 for two of those silk bagged teas with the little stem and leaf. They come in little tins. My little tin held two ... precious ... tea bags.
I tried the Flora, a herbal tea described as
A ruby red herbal tea that blends crimson flowers with cinnamon sticks. This full-flavored tea has soft fruit notes, and makes a wonderful afternoon reprieve
Put a cup of this next to a cup of Celestial Seasonings and you couldn't tell the difference.
Coupa had a sign saying that it was Oprahs favorite. I have lost all respect for Oprahs taste buds.
There is the whole esthetic element to this. It can be hypnotic, holding the little leaf and dunking your tea bag, watching the water ebb in and out of that triangle. But the taste, feh. Not that it's bad, it's just that it doesn't match the packaging. You can have a better and less expensive tea experience by going next door to Coupa to Tea Time ... and you can get a crumpet with huckleberry jam.
Anyway, check out the link below for lots of pictures and prose about Tea Forte.
Does Tea Time still exist? Thanks Krys for the review of Tea Forte. I'm not at all a tea drinker and can't tell the difference between celestial seasonings and any other western tea. That said, I still highly recommend coupa cafe. Prosciutto panini. hot chocolate. good wine. The shortbread is crazy.
they still have a few kinks they're ironing out (over eager but incosistent food servers- salad that didn't come meatless as requested), but in this day and age of hyper efficient soul-less chains, finding a place like coupa makes me happy.
Yep, Tea Time is still there.
I was distracted by my rant and forgot to ask you, have you tried arepas anywhere else besides Coupa cafe?
I'll finally sit down for that prosciutto pannini next time I get that way. Shortbread? I love good shortbread. I had this feeling about Coupa cafe that you needed to know what to order, so this helps alot.
I've never had an arepa. It could be me, but the vibe I seem to get from Chowhounds is that the are just ok here. The reality though is I'm really not going to go chasing around the Bay Area looking for areapas. I'll probably try one here and will keep the reina pepiada-chicken and avocado in the back of my mind.
yeah, my feeling with these arepas is that they are yuppified versions and not very accurate approximations of the "discotheque" snacks that coupa claims they are. for eg, you can get these with maytag blue cheese or sundried tomato... however, it's palo alto, so they probably felt they had to adapt a lot. it's sort of the way i feel about all european street food that i've had that turns into blandish versions in a nice sit down restaurant here (crepes, doner kebabs, etc).
wrt prosciutto, i also recommed the affetati della casa at la strada on university, for very high quality prosciutto (mortadella, speck and others too). another pleasant restaurant to nibble along at on a sunny weekend afternoon.