Appetizers
July 31, 2006
A Brunch that Towers Over Others

EK TOWER CAFE.JPG
No one has called me a dimwit, at least not to my face, not within the past week, though people have been passionate in responding to a feature that appeared in The Bee's Taste section this past Wednesday. It was a compilation of 50 foods and culinary landmarks that make Sacramento such a delightful place if you're a food enthusiast. As readers subsequently have pointed out, several worthy foods and places weren't on the list, which goes to show just how big the Sacramento cornucopia is.

But we had only so much space, and I don't know what I would have eliminated to make room for additional suggestions to come our way, most of which we're aware of but couldn't accommodate. (Several of them will be mentioned in this Wednesday's Taste.)

In retrospect, I especially wish I could have included Tower Cafe at 16th Street and Broadway. I could say I overlooked it because of all the foliage that cafe owner James Seyman has added to the corner since he opened the restaurant on Earth Day 1990. I don't know why he hasn't renamed it the Tower Botanical Garden.

Surprisingly to me, people who've lobbied for Tower Cafe especially have praised its New Mexico blueberry cornmeal pancakes and its French toast. I've frequented Tower Cafe for its dinner menu and its desserts, the list of which is so long, rich and varied that even reading it you feel you should loosen your belt. But breakfast or brunch? Not that I can recall.

Yesterday, however, we stopped by. The line out front was long, but the wait was a not unreasonable 10 minutes. We were asked, "Inside or out?" Whatever is available first, we replied. Inside is far different from the garden outside, but in its international art and artifacts it represents brightly and with diverting variety the global village Seyman set out to create.

First suggestion: Do indeed order the New Mexico blueberry cornmeal pancakes ($6.95 full order, $4.50 half) and the "famous French toast," as the menu puts it ($8.95 full order, $4.95 half). Second suggestion: Take the menu's hint and request just half an order. Only marathon runners and loggers possibly could eat a full order. This was the first time I've ever left a restaurant with leftover pancakes. They did have the gentle grittiness and sweetness of corn, as well as the sunny fruitiness of blueberries. The French toast was novel, a torpedo-shaped length of baguette with a custardy interior and a crust substantial yet tender, with a dark toasty flavor.

Next time I visit Tower Cafe for breakfast or brunch, however, I've got to try the birria, something you just don't see around here often.

And next time I round up 50 foods and culinary landmarks to distinguish Sacramento, I've got to figure out some way to make room for Tower Cafe

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