A beautiful glass mosaic built into a booth-back greets diners at Flavors on Tejon, downtown's newest breakfast and lunch caf located in the space of the former Tejon Street Market. Past several more booths and tables, a half wall features the whimsical phrase: "a creative place where tastebuds play!"
A glance at the menu confirms that owners Joe and Sally Ierisi indeed seem to be having a good time.
From a smattering of gourmet soups, salads and burgers available for lunch, we opted for the grilled chicken and fried goat cheese salad ($10.50), Catfish 'n Chips ($9.50) and the spicy crab cakes ($13.95).
A delicious combination of mixed greens, apple, bacon and red onion in a walnut vinaigrette comprised the enormous salad. The moist grilled chicken, warm goat cheese and seasoned crostini toppings shone.
By comparison, my guest's crab cakes, while delicious and low on filler, looked more like an appetizer than an entre. The two small cakes drizzled with a spicy sambal (a hot, chili-like Asian condiment) chive mayo, sat next to a small mound of field greens barely tossed in an orange sesame dressing. At $14, a choice needs to made: Either bulk up the greens or bring down the tariff.
To compensate, we ordered vegetable soup and a very spicy vegetarian green chili (both $3.50). Chunky and homemade, the soups satisfied with robust flavors.
Only my catfish, despite a sensational side of sweet potato fries, didn't play well with our buds. I love catfish and rarely see it on local menus, but the overwhelming lemon pepper and salt-heavy panko crusting simply shocked our palates. (Toned down, I suspect the recipe will work.)
Lunch ended with a delightful, moist bread pudding ($3.50), sweet and jazzed up with a dollop of Chambord whipped cream.
I'm not a huge coffee drinker, but the French press service (using local Colorado Coffee Merchants product) impressed. For the mocha Chambord ($4.95), our knowledgeable server brought a glass dressed in the Chambord cream and chocolate shavings, the French press and the all-important timer. My coffee-addicted guest was pleased.
At breakfast, the Ierisis' creativity is once again sprinkled all about the extensive menu. Dishes like steak Oscar Benedict, crab cakes Florentine, prime rib hash and stuffed French toast (again topping out at $13.95), along with all the omelettes, made choosing difficult which I consider a good thing.
I finally settled on the sweet potato cakes ($9.50), large flapjacks with a sweetened orange butter and pecan maple syrup. The cakes were fluffy and light, and the bits of orange rind and crushed pecans in the syrup made for a fantastic combination.
My friend chose green chili huevos ($9.50): crispy potato cakes under a grilled tortilla with black beans and two over-medium eggs, covered in veggie or pork green chili. She went for both, with cheddar, sour cream and cilantro finishing the dish. The eggs were perfect, the not-too-spicy pork chili, hearty. The veggie chili offered up large chunks of tomato and chiles.
"I'm full, but I have to finish," she said with a big smile.
With a warm, welcoming staff and a fun menu that surprises, Flavors on Tejon appears on its way to being a playground for hip palates.