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Review: Philoçoffee in Alta Vista now serving good sandwiches

August 3, 2018

Note: This is a Just a Taste review, which the Express-News does soon after a restaurant or bar opens to give our first impressions.

Good things are brewing at a new Alta Vista cafe.

Philoçoffee opened this spring with a lineup of coffee- and tea-based drinks and a handful of pastries from the Castle Hills bakery C’est La Vie. A smart selection of budget-friendly breakfast and lunch sandwiches were added in July.

Combine that with Philoçoffee’s charming location inside the former Frost Mansion carriage house, and you have a recipe for a delightful neighborhood cafe.

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On the menu: To start, let’s get the blood pumping.

The shakerado ($3.95) is four shots of espresso shaken into a frothy tempest with ice and a splash of simple syrup. Into the storm goes a topper of cream, swirling into the murky black below. It’s bitter, bracing and just the jolt needed to skip directly over a Monday morning. An egg and cheese croissant layered with avocado and sprouts then toasted on a panini press ($6) provides just enough butter and responsible greenage to soften the shakerado’s jaggy edges.

That sandwich press gets a workout at Philoçoffee. A toasted Reuben ($7) had a pleasant smoky nose thanks to peppery pastrami instead of the more common corned beef. The turkey pesto sandwich ($7) was a more restrained affair, the timid turkey base ever so slightly goosed with a pinch of basil.

You don’t have to be a vegetarian to appreciate the veggie sandwich ($7). It delivers far more flavor than expected thanks to a bright lemony hummus, feta cheese and pickled onions offset with peppery watermelon radish, sprouts and avocado. And the lox bagel was a steal at just $7 for a generous layer of cured salmon, capers and fresh dill.

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The pour over coffee ($3.95) took the longest to prepare and delivered the tamest coffee experience. I preferred the cortado ($3.20), equal parts biting, acidic espresso and soothing warm milk.

The summer indulgence award definitely goes to the Matcha Tea Melange ($4.95), a sweet slush of powdered green tea, ice and milk topped with whipped cream. It’s less guilt inducing than a milkshake, but firmly in dessert drink territory.

They’ve only been in the breakfast and lunch game for a month or so, but so far Philoçoffee is a solid choice for a memorable meal, and at a modest price point to boot.

Location: 606 W. French Place, 210-314-8450, philocoffeesa.com, Facebook: @philocoffeesa.

Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Paul Stephen is a staff writer in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | pstephen@express-news.net | Twitter: @pjbites | Instagram: @pjstephen

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