Saturday, November 08, 2008

Time to Chill in the Financial District

I don’t know how it happened, but starting this food blog has given me a sweet tooth. It must be all the sweet crazes starting up these days, from cupcakes, to doughnuts, to frozen yogurt. Then there were the dessert bars, now dessert cafés.

Dessert cafés are no stranger in Asia, where they love their sweets, whether its specialty pastries or gloopy drinks or imported treats from the United States and Europe. But in America, it’s a java world. So it’s unusual to find a space that looks like a café but serves mostly sweets. Confused? Then check out Chill.

Chill is a new dessert café that opened this week in the Financial District. I had an appointment earlier in the week that took me to the city, so I wandered in afterwards to check out this new spot. I didn’t know what to expect because looking over the menu didn’t help me get a sense of what it was.

Was it a fro-yo spot? It certainly had the bright, contemporary colors for it and they do serve a selection of frozen yogurt with exotic toppings. But it’s more than fro-yo, because Chill also serves a selection of hand-made sweet crepes served as hand-held cones.

Chill was started by Trang Nguyen, who has an MBA and worked in food marketing before pursuing her dream of a sweet spot for the every day person.

I have to say I really enjoyed the space. It felt airy and bright and cool, almost like a lounge. When I visited, it was pretty busy for a place that had just opened.

I looked over the menu and while the weather made it too cold to think about frozen yogurt (I was tempted by the Crème de Papaya flavor, though), I opted to try one of the crispy crepe cones. So I ordered the Strawberry and Figs crepe for $5.75.

You can watch them make your crepe on the side and assemble it. When I got mines, I sat myself in one of the white, Swedish-inspired plastic chairs and started to chow down, getting all the crunchiness of the crepe with the cooling sweet ice cream inside. I definitely got a strawberry flavor but I didn’t really detect any figs, which was disappointing. Still, it was enjoyable to eat. But as you can imagine, it was difficult near the end when eating the final pieces of the crepe folded as a cone without the melting ice cream dripping all over your hands. Sigh, the things you have to do for treats.

Currently, Chill doesn’t offer any coffee, and they only have the red Rooibus tea (a type of decaffeinated root drink primarily from Africa).

Chill is a real nice treat to get away from the hectic bustle outside and discover something different. But in the current economy, I do wonder how Chill will survive in the current spot (the prices were kind of on the high end, I felt). While it’s a prime location on Kearny, most Financial District people are in a rush home and would rarely want to stop and chill. And on Saturdays (the only weekend day it’s open), Chill is a bit far out of the Union Square beaten path.

So that means you need to make it a point to find time for Chill. It’s an interesting concept and the people seem friendly and the product seems enticing. It’s worth a visit, and I hope Nguyen does well.

Chill, 125 Kearny St. (between Post and Sutter), San Francisco. PH: 415.433.1233. Open Mon.–Fri., 11 a.m.–7 p.m.; Sat., noon–5 p.m. Closed Sunday.


Anonymous said...

Did you get the Grand Opening Special of $3 for the crepe? It was for Nov 5-7, 2008.

Chef Ben said...

No I didn't! Was I supposed to ask for it or should they have just offered it? I feel kind of cheated since I went during those days. :( Maybe that's how they got it so crowded even though they just opened. Good marketing!

foodhoe said...

oh your strawberry fig crepe sounds so good! I don't eat dessert very often, but recently had a nutella crepe that was extremely disappointing. I like textures in my food, so the fact that your crepe had crunchy parts make me want one now!

Palidor said...

Those crepes look good. If you're ever in Tokyo, there's a fantastic crepe stand in Akihabara. I had an awesome blueberry crepe with whipped cream!