BARTAVELLE COFFEE & WINE BAR (Berkeley, CA) – Bartavelle opened during my final semester of college, and I was super pumped to see a coffee place that had a parking lot! That is a rarity in Berkeley. Except, I never ended up making it out there, so it’s been on my list for awhile. Several months ago, I showed a close friend around my college town, and we popped into Bartavelle. Finally!
Bartavelle descends from California food royalty – from Chez Panisse. Yes, Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, and it inhabits Cafe Fanny’s old space. Tucked in between Kermit Lynch and Acme Bread, the owners are a mother and son team. Chef-owner Suzanne Drexhage is formerly from Chez Panisse and Kermit Lynch, and manager Sam Sobolewski, is formerly of Blue Bottle. So you know we’re in for a good time.
I pulled into the small parking lot and managed to find a space pretty quickly. It’s a crowded lot because of the three shops’ customers, but there’s also plenty of street parking. The coffee and wine bar is pretty small with a few stools inside and a couple of tables outside, but I like the dysfunctional space. It feels so quirky and Berkeley to me.
Bartavelle has served Sightglass Coffee in the past, but when I was there, they were serving and selling Heart Coffee, a roaster based in Portland. Everything consumed is purchased and sourced locally from Strauss Creamery dairy to bread next door from Acme, so it’s all top quality.
Though this place is also a wine bar, I was there for brunch (which is available until 11), and thus am focusing on the coffee bar. My friend and I quickly ordered two lattes and then ordered our brunch meals. Once our lattes were served up – which was pretty quick! – we managed to snag a spot at the bar counter outside. Sometimes, it requires some hovering over people because this spot is small.
We both ordered avocado toasts, served on Acme pain au levin with Brokaw avocado, pacific sun olive oil, lemon, Celtic sea salt, and marash pepper. We also shared the Persian breakfast (served all day), with organic labneh, sheepsmilk feta, cucumbers, fresh herbs, za’atar and housemade jam, served with acme pizza bianca bread.
The avocado toast was delicious! I truly think the Acme bread is what makes the difference. It was a nice, thick slab of rustic bread, with avocado spread so generously on top. It was creamy and buttery, and the peppers added more flavor.
The Persian breakfast, predictably, is a new favorite. The bread reminded me of Afghan bread that I can get at any Afghan corner market in Fremont, and it pairs wonderfully with the labneh. It’s a thick, pillowy bread that is a perfect vessel for dips. I would spread labneh and feta on my bread and sprinkle with the herbs for maximum flavor.
This was a great way to fuel up before exploring Berkeley for the day. I love the vibe of Bartavelle – it’s such a chill area and it makes it feel like you’re visiting a community shop – it’s like stumbling upon the ultimate hidden gem even though it’s rightfully gotten the accolades it deserves. I can’t wait to come back again!