A few weeks ago, Isla Vista was graced with two new eateries: Le Café and Blend Me Tender. Located on Trigo next to the 7-Eleven, Le Café and Blend Me Tender are two very different, yet connected establishments. With Le Café serving coffee and pastries as well as a variety of breakfast, sandwich and vegetarian food options, Blend Me Tender is its smoothie and juice bar counterpart.
When I walked into Le Café, I was struck by its modern yet rustic interior. The black furniture and wooden paneling serve to darken the white walls underneath. A neatly lined array of classic comic books rested on the wood paneling while alternative rock played softly in the room. I stepped up and ordered a chocolate muffin, one of two left in the nearly empty pastry case. I decided to save my snack and made my way next door.
Blend Me Tender sharply contrasted its neighbor. From the outside, it advertised juices, bowls and smoothies in large black letters against the all-white walls display of the interior. Minimalist black outlines of women and men with adjacent quotes about smoothies and fruit also lined the front and side walls. Although this establishment is clearly meant for smoothies and juices, I decided to get a smoothie bowl out of curiosity. I ordered the Lady Madonna, a bowl containing pineapple sherbet and juice, acai, bananas and coconut topped with homemade granola, bananas and shredded coconut. I sat down at one of the tables outside, eagerly waiting for my food.
While I waited for my smoothie bowl to arrive, I ate my chocolate muffin. As I bit into it, I had a hard time sinking my teeth in and breaking it apart. The muffin was stale, at least a day old, maybe more. It held the potential for tastiness, but the chalky appearance of the chocolate chunks was unappealing and tasted expired. Had it been fresh, perhaps my taste buds would have been happier, but, alas, they were disappointed.
Fifteen minutes later, my highly anticipated smoothie bowl arrived. Scooping up the first spoonful, I was surprised by its watery consistency. While the banana chunks and coconut flakes were good, the watery mixture was overly tangy and the homemade granola just tasted like peanuts. It was far from the fresh, healthy, yummy food advertised on its window. I looked over at my friend’s smoothie bowl, the Blue Hawaii. Though the consistency was still slightly watery, it looked and tasted much more enticing. A rich, purple color, the bowl was topped with sliced banana, strawberries, kiwi and granola.
Nonetheless, I was not ready to give up. I decided to give Le Café one last chance. I went back into the café and ordered the Italian Job, a pesto chicken sandwich with mozzarella on ciabatta bread. When it arrived, I dug in. On first bite, the warm, soft ciabatta bread, fresh mozzarella and excellent pesto paired well with the chicken, transporting me to a waterfront in the Mediterranean. Although the chicken was slightly colder than I would prefer, the sandwich was very good.
Both Le Café and Blend Me Tender hold potential for being great hangout spots for UCSB students with their convenient location and welcoming interiors. While I cannot speak for the other dishes and juices served at these establishments, I am saying that based on my experience, I wish the food was as good as the decor. Although I understand these eateries are still getting settled in Isla Vista, they will need to step it up if they want to stay around.