Lunch date #16, May 25, 2012
We were in the mood for something simple. We wanted to grab a quick burger or sandwich and were trying to think of where to go. The plan was to meet over at The Habit—the new burger joint near the new Safeway on Bernal. On the way there, I drove down Main Street. Where could we go downtown, I was thinking. Then I saw it—so easy to miss, since we're so accustom to seeing it, we don't actually see it anymore…Dean's Café (620 Main Street). I know, more famous for their gigantic omelets and a popular breakfast spot, I had never gone there for lunch—so there you are, and Dean's it was!
Location 5 points. Can't get any more in the heart of downtown than Dean's. Also with a side parking lot and dedicated spaces, certainly deserves full points here.
Ambiance 3 points. "Well, it is a coffee shop," explained Mom as if to say 'quit being such a snob'! True I thought—Dean's does have that "been-there-forever" thing going…however, that is the problem when you look closely. The floor tiles (on the booth side) are worn and look dirty, the carpet (on the table side) is trashed. I think the veneer paneling and plastic ferns hanging on the walls are tacky. The torn seat in our booth was repaired with duct tape. The place looks like it would be a great candidate for the TV show "Restaurant Impossible".
Menu choices 3.5 points. To judge it for lunch, the menu is not all that extensive. There are 3 pages of omelet choices—and yes, we could have had an omelet for lunch, but beyond that there are only the basics. Few choices of each burgers, sandwiches and salads—not a lot of comfort food ideas which is what we were after that day. Mom ordered the cheese burger and fries, and didn't even bat an eye. I went for the French dip and FF—why not?
Service 4 points. One of the best parts of our lunch experience was the service—they were right on it. We did get a table right away, and were barely seated before we got water and were asked what else we wanted to drink. Our server suggested the smaller Dean's burger for Mom-which was an excellent recommendation. The lunch was also served very quickly-quite a change compared to my experience when I've been there for breakfast and have waited 30 minutes plus to get my omelet.
Food 3.5 points. Mom liked her burger, but joked: "Where's the beef" when it was served because the patty completely covered by a smothering of cheddar cheese. After taking a bite, she announced: "Mom's happy!" My French dip was also very good: very tender French roll and roast beef. Unfortunately we were both very disappointed with the French fries-they were the thick kind, and appeared over-cooked, but were cold and soggy. Too bad the fries were so crummy, or the overall food score would have been higher.
Value 3.5 points. The price of my sandwich at $9.95 was similar to other prices on Main Street. However, when you consider the dingy atmosphere and lousy fries, the overall value of the dining experience was decreased. Also, the prices for a cup of regular coffee and Lipton hot tea, both at $2.75 were pretty inflated. That brought up the total price of the overall bill and also decreased the value score.
Overall score for Dean's Café: 3.75 points. Not a bad spot at all, however, we suggest that the owner invests a bit for improvements of the dining room and it would score even higher. We get it that it has the been-here-and-not-going-anywhere type of charm, but it wouldn't hurt to update and clean up the place.