Babette Cafe (Berkeley, CA) – During my last semester at UC Berkeley, I wrote up a list of cafes I wanted to visit and “study” at before I graduated. I guess it was more because I liked the cafes’ aesthetics and wanted to pretend to work when I would probably just end up on Tumblr. I didn’t quite end up making through the list at all because life had other plans, but I’m getting back to trying out some of the places I had meant to a few years earlier.
One of those places was Babette. I wish I had visited when the original Berkeley Art Museum was still located on Bancroft, but the new location on Center in Downtown Berkeley is amazing. It’s so modern and clean – and it’s so cool to work in a cafe above a museum.
I met up with my old roommate and good friend for brunch. Somehow, we always reunite in Berkeley even though we don’t live in the city itself lol. The cafe was pretty full but we found an empty table and claimed it while we put in our orders at the front. You get a number to bring back to your desk but coffee is picked up by the counter.
The menu is changing since it’s seasonal and based on what local ingredients they can source. Usually for brunch, there a couple of salad options, a bowl with soft eggs, and several pastries. Because of this, the menu items are a little pricey. They also do these cool dinners called “Film to Table” where they create a dinner of fine dining caliber in accordance to a movie. My friend ordered one of their seasonal salads, which she enjoyed.
I ordered a latte (my usual), and they rotate through several coffee roasters such as Heart and Verve. It was really good and I was perfectly perked up throughout my day. It’s such a calm environment to sip coffee in while observing the museum below while working or socializing. You can also sit towards the other end of the cafe (where the red walls are) and get a nice view of the downtown streets.
I ordered the house made granola with Strauss yogurt and seasonal fruit. While I was at the register, the lemon pistachio cake caught my eye, so I also ended up ordering that too. In hindsight, I should’ve just ordered the cake with my coffee because while the yogurt and granola were great, I didn’t care for the fruit in my bowl. I wish they were more specific so I could’ve made a better decision – the bananas were alright, but I don’t want apple slices and grapes. I would have preferred berries, personally.
Now, that lemon pistachio cake though. I saw a Yelper saying they were generous with the heaping of pistachios, but I think it was perfect. I do wonder if the woman ringing me up made the cake since she mentioned it was housemade and she asked me where I was from based on my name. Then she told me she was Turkish, hence wondering where I was from since it’s a very popular name in the Middle East and South Asia. The cake had very middle eastern flavors to me, it reminded me of baklava with the pistachio, sweetness, and flaky crust.
Overall, it’s a cafe with a cool, modern vibe. It feels way more upscale than some of the kitschy spots you find in Berkeley – it seems like it belongs in San Francisco. I would come here for the coffee, pastries, and some of the more interesting dishes like the bowls or toasts. Hope I make it to the museum on my next visit!