Gypsy Cafe, Sebastopol

Reborn Pine Cone Cafe isn't perfect, but wins your heart with food that's straight from the soul

gypsy cafe sebastopol interior

gypsy cafe sebastopol interior
Returning to the site of the old Pine Cone Cafe is like rekindling a romance with an old flame.

Resurrected as the Gypsy Cafe in the fall of 2011, the historic lunch counter has matured into a cozy bistro with an unpretentious mix of time-tested comfort dishes. The 50’s kitsch that gave way to a bland remodel has been thoroughly made-under with warm lighting to accent exposed brick and honey-colored wood floors. A distressed hotel sign serves as a half-wall between the bar and dining area while vintage travel photos and signage line the walls. Local flowers, books and handmade products grace a table near the window, underscoring the new owners’ drive for a community connection.

With deserved self-assurance it lacked under previous ownership, the Gypsy Cafe’s John Littlewood is quickly bringing Sebastopol back to the historic eatery locals have loved for generations, despite a few awkward years.

Chilequiles and clam chowder at Gypsy Cafe

The surest way back into the town’s good graces is with a rib-sticking breakfast. Served all day, dishes doesn’t overreach, but stay interesting enough with hearty one-dish bowls. Best Bet: Chilaquiles ($8.50), a generous bowl filled with scrambled eggs, tortilla strips, cheddar, avocado, tomato salsa, sour cream and cilantro pesto. Other contenders: West County Chicken Fried Steak ($11), biscuits and gravy ($3.95), and Gypsy Sticky Buns.

Lunch is served from 11am to 3:30pm (no dinner plans yet). Shrimp tacos ($8.50) and a lackluster Clam Chowder ($8.50) miss the mark, but a saucy Yucatan Pulled Pork sandwich with shredded cabbage and pickled onions on Ciabatta ($8.50) restored the faith. Salad-eaters are covered with a Chinese Chicken, Caesar, Cobb and green salad with hemp seeds. Burgers are char-broiled to order on an onion potato roll with fries, which was another small disappointment. Given their own section of the menu, we expected a bit more from our crisped potatoes, but the goods failed to deliver — especially the Gypsy-spiced version that enticed, but fell far short of the exotic flavors we’d imagined.

For dessert, the chocolate mousse ($4) with raspberry sauce was thick enough for the spoon to stand upright, but won us over with a dark, deep chocolate flavor.

Still in its early days, the restaurant is going through opening stumbles (service can be uneven, some dishes miss the mark and the noise level is near deafening when the restaurant is crowded) but the overall effect is of a restaurant that’s trying hard to win your heart with food that’s straight from the soul.

Gypsy Cafe, 162 North Main St., Sebastopol, 861-3825. Open Wed. through Monday, 8:30am to 3:30pm. Children’s menu offered.