Open Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight; Sunday, 4 p.m. to midnight. No credit cards. No reservations.
Prices: Sandwiches, $2.10 to $2.25; main dishes, about $3 to $5.
You might not even notice the change of Cafedon to Cafe d'Or until you look at the menu. The place still looks like a macho bar, a petrified zoo of animals' heads and hides under the ceiling fans. On one wall a painted nude reclines, garnished with olives.
What's a big, strong bar like this doing with mushroom stroganoff and organic apple juice? And what's a bloody mary doing in an ice cream soda glass?
The vaguely vegetarian menu battles with the taxidermy, but the wages of war are paid to the diner. The bar crowd may hang on day after day, but the eaters measure their days by Tuesday and Saturday's Sicilian pizza (which is yeasty and heavy on the basil and oregano, best with sausage and fresh mushrooms). Mondays, at last check, were curried chicken days; Wednesday, shrimp days; Thursday, spareribs; Sunday - in the American tradition - fried chicken.
The kitchen door swings open, and one wonders at what can issue from the kitchen, which could pass for a not-too-big closet. The blackboard tells you that today it is crab salad - at under $3! The sounds are country music, but city sophistication is in the cold pea soup, the creamy, shallot-scented mushroom stroganoff, the chic apple strudel and apricot mousse. Sometimes the kitchen takes a wrong turn - avocado havles are overwhelmed by enough chutney for a small Indian village, and while cheesecake is expected to be leaden, cobbler is not. Somebody didn't understand how long the beans need to be cooked for chili, nor how daringly it ought to be seasoned. But only striving amateurs would take the time on an avocado salad to arrange a symmetrical still life of cherry tomatoes, orange slices and parsley, or to organize a $2.75 chef's salad to look like spokes of a wheel, or to score the cucumbers and serve raw sugar for the thick white mugs of coffee. The best of the everyday menu (with the understanding that the pizza is the hands-down winner among the kitchen's products) is the hamburger, thick and rare and stacked with romaine and tomato, surrounded by taco chips.
What is the world coming to, when the barmaids are vegetarians and bar sandwiches are served on pita or whole wheat, when the bartender will draw a beer or a honey-pure mountain-spring root beer? I'd say it's coming along, coming along all right.