Cafe Zentral FINALLY open!

This photo is shamelessly stolen from @CafeZentralMN on Twitter,
because I was too excited to remember to take any pictures.

Cafe Zentral opened today. This place about which I have been tweeting, talking, and generally nerding out. Once I found out the date for their opening day, I immediately put it on my calendar. Now, I get excited about good food, but this was a little overboard even for me. The hope of a better cup of coffee and better food even when the food trucks are gone? It had me down right giddy.

I almost didn’t make it to opening day. I spent four hours on Saturday moving furniture for my Mom, including a 150 pound bookcase that decided it wanted to be horizontal, without giving me time to get out of the way. Ouch. It could have been much worse, but it definitely left me sore and bruised. I’m getting through my day at work thanks to pain killers, but the idea of walking to Cafe Zentral? Uff da.

There are certain things for which I will fight through pain. Coffee, especially since I didn’t make my own this morning, is one of those things. Sure, I could have gone to Caribou or Starbucks. But by god I wanted to try the coffee from Cafe Zentral. Having worked at Starbucks for five years, I’m not going to bash the chain coffee shops of the world. They serve their purpose. But they aren’t where I go if I’m looking for a damn fine cuppa.

Cafe Zentral’s barista eagerly showed me their housemade vanilla syrup, with several vanilla beans still in the bottle. Yay for real flavors! They hadn’t brewed any cold press today (I don’t blame the, it’s only 63F out today) so I had an iced Americano instead. I usually add a bit of cream but this espresso was so smooth, no cream was needed. And real vanilla syrup has none of the cloying sweetness of big name syrups, instead it’s a subtle flavor that complements instead of masking the coffee.

Since I had managed to limp over there, I opted to get a croissant as well. You know, to make it a well rounded visit. Not because I’m a sucker for croissants, no, not at all. This was only for the sake of “journalism.” While this isn’t my best food photography (I was too eager to dig in.), you can see all the flaky layers. Yum. This is not a croissant to eat over your keyboard, flakes of pastry will go everywhere, but that’s the sign of a good croissant. If it’s soft and doughy, it’s a crescent roll.

I wish I had taken photos of the menus, if not to post here, then to drool over later. They are serving crepes, which will be my undoing. Hopefully they will have a website with a full menu before too long, so I can plan my attack before I arrive. Seriously people, this place spells doom for both my wallet and my waistline. That said, most of the things on the menu looked to be under $10. If my choice is to spend $8 on food court Chinese food or $8 on high quality ingredients, then I will choose the latter. Opening during food truck season is pretty ballsy, but once the snow starts falling (which could be any day now, by the looks of things), Cafe Zentral will fill a much needed gap in skyway dining.

Later this week, I’ll be back to check out more of their lunch options. And next week I get to try their big brother, Brasserie Zentral, for restaurant week! (Seriously, if you don’t know about restaurant week, go check out the menus.) Oh, and last but not least, having someone from the restaurant recognize me and thank me for my enthusiasm? I post here haphazardly and tweet occasionally. But I do this stuff because I love this city and the unique offerings we have. So that thank you pretty much made my day!!

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