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Albany Cafe new on Solano

Glencora Dec 19, 2010 04:53 PM

A cafe has recently opened at 1309 Solano in a spot that's been closed for a long time -- I think it was a tapas place before this. The menu is mostly Vietnamese -- sandwiches, iced coffee and tapioca drinks, spring rolls, also Italian sodas. The prices are low. Banh mi are from 2.95 for vegetarian or B.B.Q. chicken to 3.95 for the crab. The pate, steamed pork and B.B.Q. Pork combo (3.25) sounds interesting. I will definitely try it soon. The space is awkward -- long and skinny in front and then a larger space in back. I spent many dull hours there when it was the Crayon Cafe and my son was a toddler. I'm glad to see something new there.

  1. Glencora Jan 6, 2011 09:51 AM

    I tasted 4 of the sandwiches yesterday. They are smaller than usual banh mi, served on a freshly baked baguette (according to the menu). The curry chicken was my favorite. It was very mild, but had a nice flavor. The BBQ Chicken -- well, I literally don't remember it. The crab was nice, with a hint of horseradish and shallot and quite of bit of fresh crab. The tuna was pretty much like a regular tuna sandwich. I would've liked more of the carrots, daikon, and cilantro on all the sandwiches and would've preferred hotter jalapenos. The food was fairly bland, but fresh tasting and well-priced.

    The space has a few tables and chairs, as well as a sofa and a couple of easy chairs and low tables. There's a bookcase with some magazines. Sort of a spartan-pub decor. The layout is very much like Rivoli's, only the windows look out on a cement yard instead of a garden.

    Empty at 4:30. Maybe they do better business at other times.

    Has anyone tried anything else here? My companions didn't want pork, so I'll have to go back for that.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Glencora
      nicedragonboy Feb 10, 2011 08:35 PM

      I went in and tried the crab sandwich and the peppered pork. Both very good and a great deal for the price as they are non-traditional types of Banh Mi. The crab filling is a bit spicy with a potent horseradishy kick. A good amount of crab.

      The peppered pork is really nice too, not what I was expecting, more savory, like sauteed slices of pork loin or something. Of the two, I would say the peppered pork was my favorite.

      The two sandwiches with an iced vietnamese coffee came to under $10. A great deal.

    2. nicedragonboy Jan 6, 2011 12:12 PM

      Did you happen to catch their hours?

      1 Reply
      1. re: nicedragonboy
        Glencora Jan 6, 2011 12:34 PM

        Monday -- Saturday 10-8, Sunday 10-6

      2. Windy Feb 10, 2011 09:31 PM

        I was there last week and was pleased with everything we tried. I had the combo bahn mi and as noted, on a nice crunchy baguette. I'd ask for extra jalapenos.

        The goi cuon were very good, and we shared a sliced mango with sugar and salt on it. And they have free wifi.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Windy
          ...tm... Feb 10, 2011 11:21 PM

          Hmmm..I missed these posts before this--I think the name Albany Cafe on Solano spelling something boring to me, but there are few things I love more than bahn mi. I'm excited to try this.

          1. re: ...tm...
            Windy Feb 11, 2011 07:22 AM

            You also won't find it if you look for Albany Cafe (which is on the window). The awning says Vietnamese.

            1. re: Windy
              nicedragonboy Feb 11, 2011 09:49 AM

              I thought they updated that.

              1. re: Windy
                psb Feb 11, 2011 11:25 AM

                I think there was a sign when I went there ... because if there wasnt a really obvious sign, I think I'd have been dubious ... since when I walked in, it looked like the lobby of some kind of small office ... long, totally empty corridor, with some magazines at empty tables etc.

                I really like this place and hope inspite of the odd geometry, it does ok. I havent analyzed the crab sando yet, because they were out several times.

                1. re: psb
                  Robert Lauriston Feb 11, 2011 11:39 AM

                  Oh, that space. It does have a bizarre floor plan. It used to be a tapas place cum daycare center called Pri Pri.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    Malcolm Ruthven Feb 13, 2011 06:05 PM

                    I remember that Pri Pri incarnation. It was truly weird.

                  2. re: psb
                    wolfe Feb 11, 2011 12:35 PM

                    The awning still says Albany Cafe. The space may be strange with the long "hall" back to the kitchen but with the easy chairs in front and back seems a nice place to sit and eat.

                    1. re: wolfe
                      lmnopm Feb 11, 2011 02:35 PM

                      I had lunch there today. It is a very odd space. I had the #1 sandwich (I think it was 1 - pork, pate, etc.), along with an order of spring rolls (seemed made to order) and an iced coffee. Under $10 for everything, and I was full. Tasty enough. Nice people. I didn't know if they make my sandwich "whiteboy version" because there was no heat at all. Easy to put on the revolving lunch repertoire.

                      1. re: lmnopm
                        psb Mar 2, 2011 12:51 PM

                        Once again ALBANY CAFE was out of the crab by the time I showed up for a sando.
                        However, what I believe is a new sandwich, the SAUTE BEEF, is quite good. Not just tasty, but decent amount of protein too. Possibly the best sando I have had here and on the upper end of the SFBA BANH MI offerings. $3.50, I believe.

                        BTW, I believe the ALBANY CAFE bread is superior to the canonical BAHN MI bread.

                        1. re: psb
                          wolfe Mar 2, 2011 12:55 PM

                          Just missed you. I had the #1 pork and again a good sandwich for $3.50. Nice to see them busy at about 1:00 with 4 WiFi-ers and a gaggle of school girls.

            2. wolfe Feb 12, 2011 10:10 AM

              The baguette appears to be Acme. The chicken sandwich had less pickled veggies than I usually see but a good amount of chicken and while it wasn't very banh miey it was a heck of a good sandwich for $3.24, tax included.

              2 Replies
              1. re: wolfe
                lmnopm Feb 12, 2011 10:14 AM

                I saw a bag of Semifreddi in the kitchen. Agree on the veggie component, and the barely-sliver of hot pepper was not enough.

                372 Colusa Ave, Kensington, CA

                1. re: lmnopm
                  wolfe Feb 12, 2011 10:45 AM

                  Ya gotta admit they look similar but good eye.

              2. drewskiSF Jul 7, 2011 03:21 PM

                Looked to be closed last time I drove by.

                Anyone know for certain?

                1 Reply
                1. re: drewskiSF
                  Glencora Jul 7, 2011 03:29 PM

                  Still going -- but they now close at 7 instead of 8.

                2. nicedragonboy Jul 7, 2011 04:39 PM

                  Serving very reasonably priced noodles bowls now too!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: nicedragonboy
                    lmnopm Jul 7, 2011 04:43 PM

                    Thanks for the info - I had a taste for something like that today. Also, didn't they change the name?

                    1. re: lmnopm
                      kc72 Jul 7, 2011 06:00 PM

                      Think it's Kim's Cafe now

                      1. re: kc72
                        drewskiSF Jul 7, 2011 06:14 PM

                        new owners running the place?

                        1. re: drewskiSF
                          nicedragonboy Jul 7, 2011 10:43 PM

                          Nope same owner.

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