I visited CEREZO, a Japanese fusion tapas themed cafe & bar, for the very first time on Saturday for a late lunch with a couple of friends. It was a bit difficult for me to find at first because I wasn't expecting CEREZO to look like a house on the outside. Upon entering the cafe & bar, the ambiance reflected was very coozy and home-like. The seating arrangement was spacious and we were lucky enough to have sat at a table in an area away from the other customers. It works just like any cafe - order up front and have the food brought to the table as it is made. As I stood in front of the till, my eyes bounced back and forth from the chalkboard menu to the glass display filled with homemade desserts, and once again I was faced with my usual dilemma of deciding what to order. After what seemed like a decade, I had made my decision. For starters, I ordered a couple appetizers to share with my company.
Sauteed Mix Mushrooms
This dish came out pipping hot. It was a tasty dish that my friend seemed to have enjoyed more than me. But I think that was mainly because I am not overly ecstatic when it comes to Asian mushrooms. What won me over about this dish were the crostinis that were grilled to my liking. It was grilled to the point that it was crunchy enough to be crispy but not too hard that it was difficult to bite off. I would consider ordering this again for the sake of the crostinis.
Miso Cheese Tofu Puffs
When I saw the name of this dish, I knew I had to order it. The word Cheese (yes I capitalized Cheese on purpose) was enough to convince me. Unfortunately, I was disappointed when I had my first taste. The cheese was the kind of cheese that I don't normally enjoy so I was not a fan of the pairing. The miso sauce was spread between the tofu and the cheese, and that helped play down the taste of the cheese for me. I would avoid this dish next time.
For my main, I had the Short Rib Beef Stew that came with bread and salad. I loved the salad, it was fresh and the dressing used was light and helped offset the stew that was in contrast a lot heavier. The bread was a cheese bun that was heated up to my delight. I admit that I was impressed when I realized the bread was heated up as I find some places can neglect to do so. The stew was basically a chili minus the beans plus the short rib. It was a simple yet interesting combination that suggested the Japanese fusion style that CEREZO is. My only complaint about this dish was that there was not enough bread for the amount of stew I had.
I was introduced to my first Spanish Latte from Caffe Artigiano and had only had it from Artigiano ever since. That being said, I was very interested to try this Spanish Latte from another cafe to see how it differed from what I was used to. In comparison, CEREZO's Spanish Latte seemed a tad sweeter than Artigiano's Spanish Latte, and the brew itself seemed different. Despite the differences, I liked CEREZO's Spanish Latte just the same as I do Caffe Artigiano's Spanish Latte.
And of course, I managed to save enough room for dessert.
Green Tea White Chocolate Cookie
When I first ordered this and brought it back to my table, I joked with my friends that I ordered a moldy cookie. I know the appearance was not the most asthetically pleasing, but Green Tea White Chocolate... there was no doubt that I was going to order this. To my surprise, the green tea flavour was quite strong (I had expected the green tea flavour to be very subtle as green tea can typically be in most cases). To sum this cookie up, I think I found my new favourite cookie. Peanut butter cookies, you may now step aside.
CEREZO delivers the Japanese fusion flavour that it promises. The staff was actually Japanese (something I find rare for Japanese restaurants found in Calgary) and were friendly and attentive. They cleared the dishes off our tables as we had finished them without giving off the feeling that they were rushing for us to leave. Our duration in CEREZO lasted close to 5 hours as my company and I got too caught up in our conversation. During the time after we finished our meal, the staff was friendly enough to provide us with refills on our water. Overall, I really liked CEREZO cafe & bar, so I will definitely go back again.