By Ea Madrigal
The location could not be any better. Located on Colorado Boulevard and near Pasadena City College, a small restaurant, or at least what seems small from the outside, looking in, is nestled in a collection of other eateries and sundries stores. With a gorgeous brick façade on the outside, The Novel Café is an ideal location to stop for a while and enjoy an appetizer or indulge in a full meal.
The self-proclaimed “American fusion” restaurant states that its focus is on food, wine, and beer. The Novel Café boasts a fresh take at classic American dishes which is a novel concept, considering many notions of “classic American food” have been dwindled down to how to make a flashy hot dog or hamburger. Instead, The Novel Café presents non-pretentious dishes that are rearranged by the combination of different flavors and new ingredients.
The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which is not easy to find anymore, especially on Colorado Boulevard where many eateries won’t open until lunch or supper. One of the best parts of this open door policy is that The Novel Café provides a little something for any person’s palette, both the young and mature. Don’t like a traditional California Omelet? Try the Tofu Scramble. A BBQ Chicken Salad seems a bit too mundane for you? Try the Salmon Salad. And, if you’re someone who still enjoys the classic American hamburger, go for one of their “gourmet” burgers. Any way you chop it, you’ll find something to enjoy.
I visited The Novel Café at a very unpredictable feasting time: Saturday at 4 pm. This is often considered a quiet time at restaurants, just before the dinner rush and just after the lagging lunch crowd. I wasn’t in the mood for a heavy dinner, but I also did not want to sit and nibble on one appetizer. So, in a fashion that suits The Novel Café concept, I tried a little bit of a few things, including the Garbanzo Hummus, the Roasted Cauliflower, and the Spaghetti Marinara with meatballs.
Although the Spaghetti was predictable, the appetizers of hummus and cauliflower were a delight. For those single diners who are just looking for a place to read a good book or enjoy a beer, order the hummus to go along with your experience. It is smooth and hardy, and paired with large portions of pita bread. It also comes with a side salad, and that’s all just one appetizer!
If you come with a couple other friends to experience The Novel Café, then order the Cauliflower and you won’t be disappointed. Flavored with Miso and roasted to perfection, it serves at least four people when broken apart. It is an excellent and simple twist on the common appetizer. And truly, this one dish that encapsulates the restaurant’s aim: simple plates made with a different (even novel) flavor perspective in mind.
The Novel Café is located at 1713 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena