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Cafe 36

I met several friends for dinner on a Friday night at Café 36. Cafe 36 is a hidden gem located inside Sawall Health Food store. A couple years ago the store expanded and added a second story to hold the restaurant. The first time I visited, I was hesitant. A fine dining restaurant inside a grocery store?! But I’m telling you, it’s super cute up there and once you sit and get things going, you kind of forget that. Also, Sawall is great. It’s not loud or chaotic so even if you do recognize that you are in a grocery store, it’s not bothersome.

After being seated, I quickly realized that the staff was amazing. They were incredibly attentive and super professional. It’s clear that they are very well trained and accustomed to meeting a high standard of customer service.

We decided to order several starters and share. We went with the SHRIMP STICKS and the FRIED CAULIFLOWER. I LOVED the shrimp sticks! They were crunchy and delicious and had a caramelized black honey dipping sauce that was divine. The Fried Cauliflower was great as well. It was incredibly flavorful and cooked perfectly. It wasn’t deep fried, so it didn’t have a heavy batter to it. It was just perfect. We all also loved the bread that was brought to the table, cut in little triangles and had rosemary in it.

I had a hard time deciding what to order for my entree. Everything sounded delicious! I ended up going with the CHICKEN POT PIE. And OH.MY.GOODNESS.

The server set down my plate and I thought that it looked good but kind of bleak. It appeared to be just vegetables and some chicken, BUT THEN he poured the veloute over the mixture. AND THEN he laid a beautiful flaky puff pastry on top of it. AND THEN he poured more of the veloute on top of that. I was SO excited. Not only did it look delicious, but I LOVED the presentation of it all. It really helps the meal be more enjoyable too, as the puff pastry gets soggy quickly, so it makes more sense to add the liquid just before it is served.

And by the way, it tasted AMAZING! The veloute was rich & flavorful, and the chicken was moist & cut in smaller pieces, so it was very easy to eat. The puff pastry was amazing. I don’t like a traditional pot pie crust because usually they are so dry, so the puff pastry is where it’s at!

One of my friends got the FRIED TOFU. She said it was really good but would have liked a starch like a rice served with it. It came over a bed of sautéed vegetables. The lack of a rice was the only complaint! She said otherwise it was really good!

Another friend got the BACON ON A BONE. We all kind of laughed when they set it down in front of her because it was HUGE! We knew there was no way she would make a dent in that, let alone finish it! It looked very pretty, and she said it was really good.

To finish, we ordered several desserts. We tried the CRÈME BRULE, the CHOCOLATE SOUFFLÉ, and my favorite, the POTS DE CRÈME. It was great sharing because we got to try a little bit of each!

Cafe 36 was amazing. The atmosphere is cute and modern. Despite it being inside a grocery store, it’s not loud at all.

They do a great job in both content and quality of their food. Everyone was able to find something they loved. I would say this is definitely some of the best food I’ve had in Kalamazoo.

I’m hoping to get back soon, maybe for their Sunday Brunch! It would be a fantastic place to take my Mom for Mother’s Day.

Elizabeth Buckley is a hairstylist by day and 24/7 food enthusiast. She visits restaurants in the Kalamazoo area and blogs about her experience at feedmekzoo.com

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