In an unexpected series of events, the well-respected Zagat dining guide for San Francisco put USF’s own
Crossroads Café in their 2010 book, and awarding it their highest honor of five stars. The review calls the small café “avant-garde,” “cutting edge” and “a hip, fresh take on campus dining.” This is the first time the small student-run café has been featured in Zagat or any other guide book. Though Crossroads has long been featured in popular restaurant review site Yelp.com, the café only received a dismal rating of one star by Yelpers.
Zagat reviewer Jacques Lefluer first caught wind of the café when visiting campus for a lecture. On a stroll through the campus he saw students emerging from an underground lair in the University Center with some most unusual culinary concoctions in hand. One was eating a slice of pizza that held an innovative combination of toppings: tuna fish, sliced potato, and barbecue sauce, Lefluer recalled. Another was eating what appeared to be pasta, but was undercooked and seemed to crunch in his mouth, unlocking exciting flavors and freshness. The Zagat crew, always intrigued by independent and experimental dining establishments, set up a date for a full dining experience.
Lefluer returned to dine and rate and review the full experience. Though Crossroads was marked down for lack of valet parking, lack of coat check, inability to make reservations, and the obscene frequency of Family Guy and South Park reruns playing on the big screen television, he was otherwise blown away by the food and service.
He began his meal with a chicken Caesar salad, which was made by an exceptionally cordial Crossroads employee who actually greeted him with a smile and the word “hello.” Moving on to the main course, Lefluer had a cardboard tray of cheese tortellini with a pinkish red sauce situated between the red sauce and the white sauce, which seemed only appropriate to be named “middle sauce.” He filled a second cardboard tray with Crossroads’ signature entrée, pizza. He took one slice of chicken, bell pepper and potato, and one slice of pineapple, pesto and bacon.
Grabbing a plastic fork and knife, Lefluer sat down at an available table, wiped away the crumbs, and began his supper. First the salad: with crisp lettuce and chilled chicken, it was an ordinary Caesar salad. Though the lettuce was still quite wet from being washed and inadequately dried, he enjoyed the puddle of watery dressing left over as he finished the salad.
Next he took a bite of each variety of pizza. His mouth adjusted to the shock of being exposed to such an unconventional combination of toppings and he devoured them fully, taking notes passionately in his notepad. Finally the pasta: his fork attempted to spear one plump tortellini soaked in the creamy tomato sauce, but it failed to puncture the pasta’s hard skin. He stabbed again and again until the fork broke through the very “al dente” pasta. The pasta crunched in his mouth. His eyes lit up, wondering why no other chef had ever thought to cook pasta for such a short amount of time! He crunched and chomped the rest of the pasta, which was so hard he almost chipped a tooth.
For dessert, Lefluer enjoyed a slightly undercooked churro. He was going to sip a latte along with his dessert, but the employees at the coffee bar had decided to shut down early, even though it was still an hour before the restaurant’s closing time.
Lefluer left with a strange aftertaste in his mouth, and suffered indigestion that evening, but was satisfied nonetheless. He gave Crossroads his highest praise in his review and a five star rating.
Since the review was published, Crossroads has increased in popularity within the San Francisco epicurean community. Socialites, celebrities and foodies regularly stop by USF for the surprising pizza specials and the now world-famous pasta with middle-sauce.
San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom has already been photographed extensively in the Crossroads Café with his actress wife Jennifer Siebel. Munching on a five-dollar bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Newsom said, “This is the kind of dining we need in a city like San Francisco. We need to be audacious with our choice of pizza toppings, and push the limits of how crunchy our pasta ought to be. Bold – that’s how I’ve always served as mayor of San Francisco, and that’s how I would run a campus dining facility.” Newsom then realized his cereal was stale and threw the rest away.
Lefluer’s final words before leaving campus were “Bon Appetit.”