Two niche restaurants failed at the spot where Sundance Café used to be. The popular eatery returns home in a trendier avatar, with tasty, affordable comfort food.
Café Sundance is what the erstwhile Sundance Café needed to become. The tragedies that were Chez Vous and, later, Che Bar & Grill at this spot can now be gladly forgotten.
Sundance Café, typically packed with college kids and moviegoers throughout the '90s, is now a warm, clean and welcoming place that may have a layout that's somewhat similar to the first Sundance, but has been turned around (like the name) to settle securely into the noughties.
We visited on the second evening of business. By 8pm, every table in the room - with its light cream walls, pale birch wood panelling, cement flooring, and a wall full of mini-retro memorabilia - was occupied by college students on dates, parents with kids who could be in college and groups of friends who were once probably college-going customers chugging cheap beer at Sundance Café two decades ago.
There is plenty of food here that follows the same philosophy: affordable comfort food, set on that glorious triad of carbohydrates, fat and meat.
The newspaper-style menu lists over a 100 dishes over many pages: breakfast, salads, appetisers, sliders, sandwiches, dogs and burgers (including the Sasquatch, made with 567 gm of meat plus bacon, cheese, fried egg, guacamole, and more), pastas and risottos, a kids' menu, more serious 'mainstays', pizza and sides. Drinks, coffee and desserts are on other menus.
We tried the mini falafels, which were crunchy and well-seasoned, and therefore, didn't dip them in the bland hummus and labneh that accompanied them. We gnawed at the hot barbeque chicken wings, licking our fingertips between bites, but ignoring the accompanying dip that had more chives than blue cheese. The tenderloin burger was peppery as promised and medium rare - as a burger should be.
CS's eggplant parmigiana looks like a large cube of lasagna, layered with slices of the vegetable, rich tomato sauce and softly melted cheese. It's worth every calorie. The rawas with green onion cream, while expertly seared, seemed dull (and too grown-up) after everything we'd tried.
A pepperoni pizza was packed away for later and stood the test of refrigeration. Put your money on the pizza - the light pie had a beautiful tomato-to-cheese and crunch-to-chew ratio.
Skip the cocktails and have a beer instead; the bartender still needs some guidance. Overall, however, it's good to have Sundance back and ready.
(HT pays for all meals and events, and reviews anonymously)