Cafe Reviews

Delice Bistro in Tempe Serves Marvelous Baked Goods and So-So Sandwiches

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One orders counter-side, and food and bakery goods are delivered to a diner's table. Those baked goods are Delice's strong suit. Double-chocolate cake was moist and bittersweet; giant chocolate chip cookies were moist and chewy, and macaroons were crunchy and sweet. Scones were crumbly and heavy with oats; croissants both plain and chocolate were feather-light and Paris-perfect. The baguettes are sublime: crunchy outside, light and airy inside.

Breakfast here was on-target. Coffee was hot and strong, and cappuccino came topped with the perfect amount of steamed milk and was mellow, strong, and frothy. Bananas Foster French toast was subtly sweet, even thought it came dressed with both brown sugar and a light maple syrup. A generous helping of Gruyère punched up the fluffy-yet-hearty spinach and mushroom omelet.

Lunch and dinner items are more hit-and-miss. Tomato basil soup is just perfect: pureed and thickened with heavy cream, it's studded with fresh basil leaves and nice chunks of what tasted like roasted tomatoes. Order it late at night on a weekend and it'll come in a paper bowl yet still taste as sweet.

Delice's hot sandwiches are not. The chicken pesto sandwich married tender grilled breast meat with creamy pesto sauce and melted Parmesan and Fontina cheeses, but was served cold. Likewise, the prime rib au jus piled lightly browned, slow-roasted beef onto a stunning soft baguette roll spread with horseradish dressing -- all of it, even the au jus, stone cold. Both sandwiches came with a fresh, simple side salad, dressed with a barely enough half-portion of delicious Dijon dressing.

The Pink Delice was a straightforward answer to spaghetti that put linguine together with a light, creamy red sauce. Delicious and filling, it needed salt. The chicken avocado salad was essentially a Cobb salad with grilled white breast meat instead of bacon. Quartered hard-boiled eggs and a handsome blend of fresh greens were, once again, drizzled with only half enough delicious, tart Dijon dressing.

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela