What I Ordered
-Ricotta Hotcakes- light and airy served with bananas and a homemade pecan butter
-Kougin Amann- sugar croissant with a very soft pillowy center
-Fruit Plate - refreshing, pomegranate seeds, berries, mixed fruit
-Milk Braised Pork Sandwich- described in review (sub malt fries for salad)
-Avocado Toast- not hungry? eat this instagram famous dish (more of a snack for me)
-Gravlox Tartine- open faced sandwich with sourdough, dill infused creme fraiche, beet cured ora king salmon
-Skirt Steak- described in review, roasted carrots, Aleppo honey, blue cheese
-Grilled Lamb Ribs- set up changes, but these are great to share
-Honeycrisp Apple & Kohlrabi Salad- light crisp, slightly sweet with a champagne vinaigrette
In Short: Cafe No Se is a great go-to in the Austin area. If you often find yourself not knowing what you're in the mood for, No Se will satisfy a craving you didn't even know you had.
If you’ve ever lived in or visited California then you know of the laid back vibe that attracts people to the Golden State. Life is altogether relaxed, comfortable, and blissful. These are the same reasons why I continue to frequent Cafe No Se. It is a wonderfully open space that sports a welcoming aura reminiscent of the Californian vibe . True to the “cafe” part of its name, the hours are very accommodating.
Opening early at 7am you can enjoy the peace and quite of the morning as well as their delicious breakfast menu which offers airy Ricotta Hotcakes, the underrated Sunny Eggs which is served with an arugula salad, grilled toast with a paprika spiced tomato spread, and two crisped eggs sunny side up, as well as the daily fresh baked flavor bomb Kouign Amann (pronounced queen ah-mahn).
Not an early bird? Not a problem. Lunch is when Cafe No Se’s menu gets serious. Between the hours of 11am-3pm you can choose from some substantial contenders. The No Se burger is well known by now, but I suggest the open face Pastrami Sandwich or if you’re hungry the Chicken Milanese (it’s bigger than your face). For the health buff there’s the Shredded Kale Salad comprised of crispy brown rice for texture, cauliflower and a simple vinaigrette (add the organic grilled chicken or an olive oil drizzled side of avocado). Want to try my favorite? Milk Braised Pork Sandwich: bread is such an important component of a sandwich and No Se does it right with a ciabatta baked in house. Pork is braised for several hours resulting in a wonderful silky texture paired with a grape mustardo (something in between sweet and savory) and fresh ricotta cheese. To balance the richness of the dish they add arugula for a hint of bitter as well as frisee for a effortlessly elegant wispy touch. As if the sandwich wasn’t enough they throw in a refreshing side salad, (but take a hint from me and ask to substitute for malt fries).
Roaming around South Congress with your date? Join them for dinner, No Se goes from bright and casual to warm and romantic after 5 pm. The lights are dimmed, the candles are out and dishes come dressed to impressed. This is a great place to take a first date or someone you don’t know too well, their menu is meant to accommodate all preferences. Vegan? They have a dish for that: the Romanesco Cauliflower has great texture on its own. Its served with sprouted lentils and there’s a nice little kick with the Calabrian chili oil. Calabrian chilies are grown in Italy and have a mild fruitiness but still filled with heat. If you come with a group break the ice by ordering the Charred Octopus, someone is going to bring up the great pairing of blood orange and seafood and perhaps someone will change their mind about octopus. I tend to stick to the steak, because there’s few foods that truly satisfy my soul. The Skirt Steak is served sliced over sweet roasted carrots and blue cheese. I hate blue cheese personally, but it actually works with this dish. And I’ve never had anything like their spiced honey sauce. The heat behind their honey comes from the Aleppo pepper from Aleppo, Syria which is unique in that it has a hint of salt and oiliness to it, moderate heat, but well rounded with notes of dried fruit or tomato even, and it finishes as soon as you taste it. The dish in a word, tantalizing.
And about dessert, you can do no wrong. Pick an ice cream, any ice cream, they’re all made in house. Their pastry Chef Amanda is a genius, think Willy Wonka. Some of the desserts are painted with actual edible gold! You’ll find poprocks in your grapefruit sorbet or rice crispies on top of your creme brulee. It’s an adventure, take it, take the dessert menu. Don’t just “look at it” try something.
Cafe No Se is a great go-to in the Austin area. If you often find yourself not knowing what you’re in the mood for, No Se will satisfy a craving you didn’t even know you had. They offer dishes that aren’t exactly simple or complex, there’s just enough familiarity for you to take the bait and then later find something new and unique that you’ll search elsewhere after trying.