Linea Caffe in San Francisco
The crowd-funded venture with food by Anthony Mynt and coffee by Andrew Barnett is getting closer to opening...
3417 18th St
San Francisco, CA
(next to Duc Loi)
Daily 7:30am to 2:30pm
I like this place, and echo the sentiments that their service succeeds at being sweet and friendly - but it still doesn't make any sense.
The space is a box that really can't accommodate what amounts to 3 conflicting food stands. Getting cream/sugar, or a to go lid, waiting for a waffle - it's completely awkward. The layout makes it feel even smaller than it is. When someone is schmoozing the owners, it's intrusive. Heath cups are a nice but leaning up against the window, and staying out of the action isn't comfortable.
It's clearly an unfinished or unrealized idea. If it sticks around, and both partners stay involved, I can't foresee it resembling the current shop in a couple years. I hope they evolve and stick around.
The coffee itself is perfectly good, but unremarkable in profile. It's a little richer than Ecco, but could easily have come from nearby Four Barrel, Blue Bottle at Heath (very similar), or even just Grand Coffee, brewing Four Barrel. I also hope $3.50 doesn't become the standard price for Americanos.
I stopped by yesterday to pick up a to-go salad and give this place a big thumbs-up. I told the clerk that I wouldn't be eating the salad for a few hours after my volunteer gig and asked which would hold up best--she suggested two options.
I went with the brown rice salad with roasted broccoli, avocado, thin-sliced shiitake, pumpkin seeds and sesame oil. Three hours later, it was fantastic--the earthy tones of the mushroom played against the sweet, nutty rice, and the still crunchy pumpkin seeds and luscious soft avocado added textural interest. Considering how much I generally pay for lousy salads made of tired greens coated in cheap dressing, this felt like a bargain at $8.
My chance to try Linea Caffe/Green Salads/Lt. Waffle was two Mondays ago, just missing National Coffee Day. I'd already had a big breakfast and stopped here for coffee on my way out of town. Luck was with me, as I happened upon some friends who had just been served three plates lined up on the counter in front of the cooks. They offered me tasting privileges that I exploited to full advantage. And Anthony Myint was right there with his associate to answer questions though I didn't have many. Mostly I was filled with admiration for what he's done with this project in such a tiny space. The range of cuisine in his body of work is astonishing, he glides from strength to strength. I did ask whether the full menu is available all day or split into breakfast and lunch hours. You can get everything at any time. He said the salads have been a popular to-go item for workers to take to the office after grabbing a morning coffee.
The salads are substantial enough to suffice as lunch and they're presented on oversize white dinnerware. Here's JK's photo of the kale salad, $10, as large as absc stated and indeed great. Tiny tender green kale leaves interspersed with chopped Napa cabbage for a paler and softer green, and lavished with chunks of oranges, plenty of pecans, crispy shallots, and a well-tuned avocado dressing.
As lovely as the kale salad was, I favored the pasta salad, $8, made with pearls of Israeli couscous in a more intriguing Castelvetrano vinaigrette. The shavings of raw trumpet mushrooms imparted a truffle-y aroma and taste. Edamame and peppery watercress green'd up the offering. This had a more original taste to me.
Also tried the buckwheat waffle with creme fraiche, cucumber and salmon roe, $9, another big serving. The waffle's unbelievably light and airy with a deep nutty flavor tone. I would prefer it more crisp, and I was advised that the sweet style non-buckwheat waffles will be crisper. I enjoyed this, but even sharing, an order would be too much salmon roe in a sitting for me.
Standing next to me at the counter, coffee rockstar Andrew Barnett eating his salad lunch. This was my first time talking to him though I was an Ecco Caffe fan for years. He confided that he still can't believe his good fortune that he gets to work with Myint in this space. We had a fun chat gossiping about goings on in Sonoma County. He said that Gary of Gaga Cafe who used to work for Ecco had been in touch and will be adding Linea. Gaga sells pour over brewed coffee at the Sunday Stonestown farmers market in SF and the Wednesday and Saturday Original Santa Rosa farmers market.
The cappuccino was wonderful . . . no surprise there. Not having a frame of reference for poser's descriptor of Northern Italian roast level, I'll say that my impression of the coffee is that nothing crosses over or even comes close to burnt. The capp was so seamless and polished. Just a nice toastiness and light toast at that. Yet, the flavor is intense and persistent without being heavy or dark. An hour later in the car, I realized that I could still taste it.
A couple days later I made my way south, stopping at Bello Mundo Cafe in San Luis Obispo. I'd chosen it for my rest break because it still flies Ecco's colors though the current roaster is Equator. I told them this and shared news of Linea's opening. The head coffee guy was excited to hear and said that he knew the baristas Barnett hired, all top notch, and would be up soon to try it. If you're in SLO town, Bello Mundo is the place for coffeeheads.
re: Melanie Wong
re: Melanie Wong
re: Melanie Wong
Yesterday morning, I headed to the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market at LBC. Gaga Cafe has indeed added Linea's Brazil to the pour-over menu, alongside the Gaga blend by Intelligentsia. Gaga also sells at the Sunday morning farmers market in Stonestown. This is a chance to try the pour over since Linea does not make these at its own cafe.
Tried out Linea Caffe Sun 9/22/13 for my 2nd breakfast, I had a bowl of oatmeal at home. Took Bart to 16th St & walk a few blocks on Mission to 18th St, it's behind the Vietnamese grocery store Duc Loi in a tiny space.
They have sweet or savory waffles. I got the yeasted waffle topped w/ greek yogurt & fresh fruit which was strawberries $7 - it was made to order so takes a few minutes, I liked the waffle, but I wanted a more crispy waffle it was pretty soft, small portion. Tiny amount of yogurt & some strawberries. I did pour their homemade syrup on the waffle.
Buckwheat waffle w/ salmon roe "coming soon" because they didn't get the salmon roe - expected tomorrow so maybe this coming week.
Sign also had a "coming soon" for the pasta salad.
Caffe latte small $4.5 - nice latte art, I liked the coffee fine. Added some of the coconut palm sugar into my cup.
No seating inside or outside, think they still need to get permits lady mentioned to someone else. Credit cards taken. Didn't see any public bathroom.
Went there today. I had what I thought was the best cappuccino I have ever had in a commercial environment. For those who are not s fan of the ultra light roasts so prevalent today you will be happy to know the beans are roasted to a nice northern Italian level.
I bought some beans, but since they were roasted yesterday, I will have to wait a few days before I try them.
Friendly, efficient, approachable... I'd say they're hitting their mark. Tiny space, so getting your coffee 'for here' leads to some awkward ballet - getting some outside seating will make a huge difference - but I didn't want my first taste of their coffee to be from a paper cup. Added bonus of getting to chat with Barnett who's keen to get feedback on his brews. In any case, my latte was really sumptuous. Delicious. And the waffles looked and smelled pretty fabulous too.
Hurrah! A first-palate report, thank you. I'm out of town and won't be able to try it until next week. I loved Barnett's Ecco Caffe brews, and am so happy to see him back at it. (And I'm not one who drinks coffee every day, more like a couple times a month.)
The space is only 300 square ft. The photo above shows the full width of the storefront, and the one below the two-window wide depth. Yep, it's small.
Edited to add: Second attempt to upload the photo in a new reply has failed.
I tried a plain waffle with a few friends yesterday. It was slightly sour, which makes it an excellent base for toppings, but made it less appealing alone. Next time I'd opt for one of their appealing sounding toppings, but wanted to try it alone first.
A fellow customer raved about the potato, corned beef and sauerkraut version and had I not just tried the Friday fried chicken sandwich at Maverick, I would have ordered it. It looked great.
The kale salad looked great and was very large.
Was in the neighborhood yesterday, walked over to take a look, and caught a whiff of something deliciously meaty in the baskets Anthony Myint was carrying. Many workmen still taking care of final details.
Reports are that Linea opens today. Kind of interesting to see the published photos of Saturday's cleaned-up and looking ready for business space vs. the work-in-progress sprawl on Tuesday afternoon.
This quote resonated with me,
"In a word, Barnett is out to show that world class coffee doesn't need a showroom, or all the glossy pomp. His favorite food comes from holes in the wall, and, despite his kingly status as a coffee nerd, he believes humility and kindness behind the counter are enormously impactful. He compares buying coffee to buying bread at Tartine:
'I go in, and someone is nice to me. No one is telling me about the bread's sugar content, how many times it was kneaded, the elevation the wheat was grown. I just get nice service and a stupendous product. We want to create something like that, friendly and efficient. We want to be approachable.' "