Cafe Encore

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Note: This cafe has closed. It's now Sonoma's Restaurant

We'd been talking about trying Cafe Encore for a little while, if for no other reason than the fact that it's located in San Leandro. This is a small town, with a poor culinary scene, so it makes sense to give every restaurant a try. This year I decided to buy the Entertainment book for the Bay Area, and it had one of those buy-one-entree-get-one-free deals for Cafe Encore, so when my friend visited last Wednesday (early December, 2001), we headed there.

The small restaurant is pretty cute, a little upscale but still non-pretentious. You could best describe it as a neighborhood bistro, although it serves Italian food. They have an open kitchen and the walls are decorated with art for sale, presumably from local artists.

The night we were there, there were only a couple of other tables taken: one by another couple and another by a large group, which seemed to be having an office party. It got a little bit loud, but that's what you can expect at this time of year. The service was pretty good, even though the waitress must have been pretty busy with the large group.

The menu was typical to fancy Italian. Appetizers were under $10, while both pasta and entrees were in the low teens. We weren't too hungry, so we decided to skip the appetizers and go directly to the pasta. Mike had his usual fetuccini alfredo and I had spaghetti with herbs and meat sauce. Our friend had the Sicilian spaghetti which consisted of an eggplant stuffed with spaghetti, meat sauce, olives, bell pepper and parmesan cheese.

None of us were too happy with our pasta. My friend and I thought our dishes were OK; they tasted very home-made, as something we would make at home. She felt that the only difference between her pasta and what she usually makes was that the presence of wine. I personally use a lot of wine in my pasta, so my spaghetti bolognese was quite on par with what I make at home. Good, in both cases, but probably not worth paying over $10 for it (the portions, on the other hand, were very generous). Mike, on the other hand, did not like his fetuccini at all. He thought the sauce was bland and tasteless and ended up eating very little of it (he had some of my spaghetti instead). It's really too bad, if the food had been a notch or two higher (or a few dollars cheaper) we would have liked to go back. As it is, even though they offer a 10% discount for people with the Entertainment card, I don't think we'll be visiting again soon.

We did not have any of the entrees, so we cannot judge how good they were. We also skipped dessert; I don't even remember what they offered.

Cafe Encore
1027 MacArthur Blvd
San Leandro