It’s so new, there’s no signage outside or around the 20th Century Café in Hayes Valley. For awhile I kept referring to it as the 21st Century Café. So I was off by a century.
The little corner café – built in a renovated space that used to be a coin wash spot – is the brainchild of former Range pastry chef Michelle Polzine, and while it does embark an old world charm, the name comes from one of Polzine’s favorite movies.
There’s a real European charm in the selections, with influences from Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. Only open about two weeks, the menu is small with savory dishes like soup and potato knishes and unusual sweets like Russian honey cake.
When I went on Saturday afternoon, I couldn’t find a tea that I liked (they only offered a mint tisane, which really isn’t tea) so I ordered the affogato ($5.50), which is ice cream with espresso. While I could have been adventurous and tried the Russian honey cake (a layered cake), I’m always a sucker for coffee cakes ($4), and Polzine’s version is a cute little tower with seasonal fruit.
I enjoyed the affogato and the coffee cake, with a light airy cake texture with real chunks of peaches and raspberry. I also enjoyed the décor, with touches of old world charm. Polzine and friend even dresses in nostalgic-looking dresses for the part.
While the menu is limiting, 20th Century Café is a cute getaway with unique quality baked goods.
20th Century Café, 198 Gough St. (at Oak), San Francisco. Open Tue.–Sun., 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Facebook page.
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