Review: New café tries to find groove, needs more time

By Sami Caldwell | Contributor

Tesla’s Café and Coffee Pub is tucked away near the intersection of 13th Street and Washington Ave. The renovated historical landmark, known previously as the Sturgis House, was bought by a couple originally from New Mexico and is now home to an eclectic-meets-steampunk restaurant and coffee house. Having opened on Christmas Eve morning last year, Tesla’s has been open for just under one month but has gained quite the following.

Upon entering, customers are likely struck by Tesla’s ambiance. The layout of the café establishes a warm atmosphere, creating a sense of nostalgia and reminding one of home, wherever that may be. An eager and welcoming hostess greets guests, and the smell of waffles and coffee is immediate and all-consuming. Tesla’s is accentuated with dark wood and organic brick walls; the iron accents amplify the “steampunk” vibe, which is advertised on a sign in the front yard. The hallway leading toward to back of the house, although very thin, does give one a clear view into the kitchen, which is bustling and very clean upon inspection.

I visited Tesla’s on a Sunday at lunch time. Although busy, a group of six only braved a thirty-minute wait. We were instructed to wait in the backyard of the building, which contains white iron tables and chairs for relaxing in the meantime. We were eventually seated in one of the two upstairs dining rooms, which required a long walk up a thin staircase.

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I ordered the French Country omelet, which came with Colombian French Press coffee and a choice of either country potatoes, salad or a cup of soup. The omelet was the most expensive item on the menu, averaging around $11.00. Our water was served promptly, and the waiter even brought us a pitcher so that we could fill up our waters as we ate.

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It took around 10 minutes to receive my coffee and a total of 33 minutes for my food to make it to the table. By the time our orders were served, they were at best, lukewarm. Despite being cold by the time it arrived, the food was nonetheless flavorful. Tesla’s cooking was satisfactory, and the overall ambiance of the café is inviting and unique. Any less-than endearing experiences at Tesla’s I am chalking up to the café finding its footing. Being open for less than a month, Tesla’s is just learning how to walk; they are trying to find their groove, but they aren’t quite there yet. In a couple months, I’m confident that Tesla’s will be the go-to place for brunch.

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