Location: 109 California Ave., Palo Alto
Reviewed: September 12, 2006
Espresso: According to signage in various locations around the shop, Plantation uses coffee from San Francisco's Caffe Trieste. My requested single (but suspected double) was served at ~2oz. in volume in a tall and narrow leopard-printed cup with matching saucer. The crema was pale brown tending toward yellow; it was also extremely thin. The barista did not grind to order. In the cup, I detected some berry-like sweetness, although it was mostly overwhelmed by a kind of spicy flavour that was hard to describe. Umami kept coming to mind. Bitter aftertaste.
Atmosphere: Simply put, this place is in the midst of an identity crisis. It wants to be a coffeeshop; it wants to be a deli. Deli is probably winning. The espresso machine here is ancient, and I noticed some leakage around the portafilter while my shot was brewing. The machine is located around the corner (the counter is in an L-shape) from the register and the food prep area. Apparently, they don't give it much thought. There is some counter seating, as well as tables and chairs (some of the tables have uncomfortable benches integrated into the wall behind them). The walls are painted yellow.
Verdict: My pastrami on a French roll was much better than my espresso.