CÉ LA VI
LOCATION: 16 Monmouth Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701
Every year during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, my high school friends and I usually make plans to get together during Black Friday. Yes, we go out to brave the crowds that are in search of those crazy deals, maybe some food that isn’t turkey or mashed potatoes, or even those that just go out to people watch. This year, we decided to head into Red Bank and try this new café we found called Cé La Vi.
There were definitely a lot of people walking around town; we hit the café at pretty much peak lunchtime, so there were definitely a good number of people in the restaurant by the time we got there. We were lucky and managed to grab enough seating to accommodate all six of us, since most of the table options were for two- or four-person parties.
Black and white was definitely the predominant color scheme for the restaurant’s décor, starting with the façade and extending inside to the walls and ceiling. All of the dining tables had a marble surface to them, with contrasting black chairs. I guess in a way, that meant that the color of your food and drinks would “pop” relative to all the neutral color around it.
From my understanding, the place used to be just a creperie, specializing in dessert crepes. But at some point, the menu expanded to also start serving a variety of other breakfast items (omelettes, benedicts, pancakes, etc.), salads, and sandwiches. Once they became more of a café, it got re-branded to become Cé La Vi.
In the first look at the menu, there’s a lot to choose from. Two sides of an 11″ x 17″ sheet with breakfast, lunch, and drink options. I felt like as a place known for their crepes, I almost had an obligation to give one a try. There were some good sounding options between the breakfast crepes and savory crepes, but in the end, it was the Good Morning America breakfast crepe that won my vote. A choice between bacon, sausage, ham, and pork roll (I chose pork roll) was coupled with scrambled eggs and American cheese, which I substituted out with feta cheese. The hash brown waffles also caught my eye, so I went with that as a side dish.
This was also probably an instance of my eyes being bigger than my stomach, because I was also staring down the avocado toast on the menu as well and decided to put in an order. I was thinking that it would be more like an appetizer size, but came to find that it could have stood on its own as an entrée. Luckily, my friend Bryan agreed to split it with me so I didn’t have to be totally stuffed come the end of the meal.
I’ll be perfectly honest that the avocado toast fell short of my expectations, especially with an $11 price tag. Two slices of multigrain toast with some avocado spread, slices of beefsteak tomatoes, sliced avocados, and topped with over-easy eggs. It felt a bit underseasoned, with some extra salt, pepper, or maybe even a pinch of garlic powder that would have helped give the dish some more flavor depth.
For my Good Morning America crepe, while the individual ingredients inside did bring some savory flavors, it lacked something to help bring everything together. The whole wheat crepe itself ended up being relatively bland in flavor, and I thought that the bites with all the ingredients ended up being kind of dry. The addition of Sriracha aioli or something like that I think would have helped given more moisture to each bite and also another layer of flavor. The hash brown waffles also missed the mark for me as well. They were kind of dense when I cut into them and tasted almost slightly processed.
In the end, I’m hard-pressed to say that I would return again for their breakfast options. With the avocado toast being underseasoned and my breakfast crepe being relatively dry, it didn’t leave the best impression. Perhaps the dessert crepes are the way to go at this place, so if my sweet tooth starts to act up and I’m in the area, I’ll know it might be time to check this place out again.
Let’s now take a look at the Cé La Vi Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
And finally, here are my rankings for Cé La Vi:
Food: 3.25 / 5
While there are quite a variety of options available from the menu, all three of the items I tried missed the mark in different ways that left me with a not-so great impression of the breakfast food.
Atmosphere: 3.75 / 5
The décor definitely sets the place apart from some of the other restaurants in Red Bank. A lot of the white interior décor did help for any natural light coming into the place to make everything seem brighter. But the black and white theme, with the stripes on the walls, gave off this vibe that didn’t really resonate with me.
Service: 4.25 / 5
When I noticed an issue with my crepe after it got dropped off at the table, our waitress, Avery, handled the situation well. She apologized about the error and immediately took it back to the kitchen to get re-made. Outside of that, she would also be swinging by the table periodically to see how everything with the meal was going.
Price: 3.75 / 5
The price points ended up being kind of a mixed bag for me. On one hand, I thought that my crepe, with all of the filling ingredients, was worth the $9. On the other hand, the avocado toast priced at $11 and plate of hash brown waffles priced at $6 didn’t seem worth it for what you got.