corridor cafe.....an actual reason to go to van ness and market?
**Ugh, the way restaurants change in this town just makes my head spin. First Corridor had this separate grab and go cafe in addition to their sit down spot. Simple right? Now they've absorbed the cafe into the restaurant, will start serving breakfast and brunch (surprise!), use the cafe for catering or something, but offer counter ordering at lunch but sit down at dinner. Yeah, that's less confusing**
The corner of Market St. and Van Ness is not what I'd call the hot bed or food in SF. It is more of a transit transfer spot for MUNI, the "lively" street scene, folks going to the symphony or opera and that donut place in the weird shaped building that feels like it has been there fo' eva! And yes, I've been there a time or two or more, but it really is the donut shop of very last resort for me. Anyone who has been in it will understand.
But with the increasing building boom in the area of new condos and what not, sometimes new restaurants try to come in to take advantage of the renewed interest in the area and the people that come with it. Into this fray comes Corridor/Corridor Cafe, a twofer. One is a sit down server spot, the other is a grab and go kind of cafe. I figure I will make it to the fancier one eventually but thought I would give the cafe a try as I could get more of their little thingys to taste.
Walking in the space is small but feels big due to some really tall ceilings. And outside of a few stools by a window counter and some tables outside, looks like they really, really want you to "grab and go" with your food here. Fortunately for me, I came at a slow time so had no trouble finding a spot to sit and eat. But what should I get? It is set up kind of like a deli counter with a showcase of pre-made sandwiches, salads and pastries to choose from. I'm here, may as well go all in.
What better way to start than a sourdough grilled cheese. Buttered sourdough bread with a mix of provolone, gruyere, swiss and cheddar inside along with a smear of shallot tomato butter. I'll admit, when I picked it, it looked bigger in the showcase than after they warmed it up on a panini press like machine. Still, at $6.50, it is one of the least expensive, upgraded grilled cheeses your are going to find in SF outside of some place like Lee's Deli. And I'm sure you will be surprised to hear, I kind of liked it. Crunchy buttery bread and ooey gooey cheese, and plenty of it, inside. There is a reason they call things like this comfort food, they taste good and makes us feel good. Not necessarily from a healthy standpoint, but more from satisfying a salty cheesy craving. I can definitely see getting one of these again, though I will make sure they take the bigger one out of the case.
Still on the bread kick, it is a truffled egg salad sandwich on a multigrain nut bread with lettuce. I was actually looking forward to this as I'm kind of an egg salad fan from way back. My grandmother used to make it real old school with mayo and pickle relish, just like a deviled egg. Again, at $6, it is a pretty decent price for a nice sized sandwich. The bread is very thick and hearty and I could have honestly eaten a slice of this with some butter and be happy. I really like the nutty flavor too.
Inside they've nestled the egg salad between two lettuce leaves and I'm sure part of that is to keep it from soaking in and making the bread soggy, but I don't think that would be an issue with this bread. There also is no mayo on the bread thus altogether, it comes across a little dry, or thick. The egg salad itself was nice with lovely little earthy notes from truffle oil (probably) but don't be fooled by the pick, there wasn't that much between the slices, which just adds more to it feeling like you need a liquid to try and wash it down. So I like it but I don't like it. Individually the pieces are there--good bread, tasty egg salad--it just doesn't come together perfectly.
Time to get a little healthy! It's quinoa with roasted carrots and mushrooms, tarragon, green onions and a citrus vinaigrette. You can get a small for $3.50 or larger size for $5. Either is actually a good sized serving. I really wanted to like this and the roasted mushrooms were good, but there were way too many onions and the vinaigrette was more oily than light and just overwhelmed everything giving it a slickery texture. There were not that many carrots so not much crunch going on here, just all sort of one soft note. Possible it was an overcooked batch that day? Either way, not the best.
Because I haven't had enough bread things, let's get some baked goods! All pastries are made in-house and the banana bread seemed a good way to start. At $2.25 a slice the price is right on the edge for a piece that is just okay in size. Not like what you get at say Peete's. Overall I will give it a just okay. It is kind of moist, but on the edge. It does have great banana flavor hints of nuttiness. The edges are cooked a hair too much and can't say I was the biggest fan of the sugared icing on top. I guess I like my banana breads with cream cheese frosting or nothing at all. Not terrible, but I've had better.
Yes, a big 'ol strawberry cream cheese muffin for $2.50. Okay, it was big, especially the muffin top! Plus those are sugar crystals baked into the top. It was a good muffin. The strawberries and cream cheese had cooked out a little so could have used more, but it was moist, flavorful and not over sweet, even with the sugar on top. I do think having it warm would have raised the taste level but as a late afternoon (or early morning) pick me up with a hot tea (or coffee), it worked well enough.
I know it seems like a lot of hit or miss here, but I did kind of like the spot. I was interested to try some of their other offerings particularly in the breakfast sandwich realm and possibly other baked goods they may do, but had been out of by the time I got there. And the pricing is surprisingly good especially for the neighborhood. Granted, they do have a couple of those $10 sandwiches, but they also have enough other things that an occasional lunch here won't break the budget.
I'd guess some of the folks who work nearby at City Hall or BofA would find this a pleasant alternative to the other options around the area they've probably been too a thousand times. I could see tucking in here again and it does make me want to give the main sit down spot a try. If they can make me like a $6 grilled cheese, I'm sure I could fall for their take on meatloaf and pot pie too.