Christian Ciscle was the opening chef and manager of Farmer Brown spin-off Little Skillet, and put the place on the city's list of gotta-eat venues last year. In February, he had a parting of the ways ― literally ― with Farmer/Skillet's Jay Foster. Ciscle weighed his options, traveled, and took a gig with John Quintos at Vega, the Blue Bottle kiosk on Folsom.
Last week, Ciscle resurfaced at the newly dubbed Café Divis, the ex-On the Corner café owned by Panini's Michael Musleh. The site has served these past three months as a sort of Panini annex, but now, in Ciscle's hands, the place is putting out some solid food and drink. Quintos served as consultant to bring in Blue Bottle, and while the Panini options remain ― for now ― Ciscle has brought in new food vendors, and is creating a simple menu all his own. (An earlier report that Café Divis would become a locus of street food were a tad overhyped says Ciscle, though Gobba Gobba Hey and El Porteño are in the house.)Lack of a ventilation hood means cooking has to remain basic. Expect to see cazuela-style baked entrées in future, but for new, Ciscle's authored some new sandwiches, listed as white-board specials. Maryland chicken salad draws on Ciscle's Baltimore roots. Cubes of moist flesh get a sort of crab salad treatment, in a pinky, paprika-tinted mayo speckled with celery seeds. It's a on a Panorama brioche bun, with avocado, and tomatoes the counter guy slices a la minute. Café basic? Sure, but all the ingredients shine, even for the balsamic-doused side salad. That's not something you can say about most coffee shops.
Café Divis: 359 Divisadero (at Oak).