I must admit, I have mixed feelings about telling everyone about gourmet dining options at Cafe 101. Not because I’m on the fence about writing about it or anything, but my family, friends, and I have found this to be such a wonderful gourmet dining experience at Denny’s style pricing we don’t really want to share! So far we have been there twice and each meal was better than the last! So lets start from the beginning shall we?
I have worked in the area for years now and had absolutely no clue that this restaurant even existed! There are no flashy signs, no advertising, and you have probably never even heard of this place before. In fact the only reason why I even found out about it, is because a customer of mine knew I worked in the area and asked if I could give her directions. I had no clue what she was talking about but was able to google it without issue. Cafe 101 is an operational gourmet dining experience that is run and maintained by the Daytona State College culinary arts program in Daytona Beach. Part of the reason why it’s the best kept secret is because of the limited hours that they operate.
Offering a full gourmet dining experience for both lunch and a limited dinner times, Cafe 101 is ready to serve you by reservation only. Cafe 101’s gourmet dining is available Monday through Friday for lunch with two seatings: 11:30 and noon. Dinner reservations are available Wednesday night only, at 5:30 and 6:00. Unfortunately they do not offer walk in seating, you must call ahead. I assume this is to keep the costs down and so the students know what they are getting into.
Speaking of low costs, this truly gourmet dining experience won’t break the bank which is why I’m personally such a huge fan. Lunch is only $11 and dinner is $15. This includes tax and your drink. So what do you get for your hard earned bucks? Well, lunch is served buffet style. Complete with offerings such as San Francisco Seafood Pasta, Smoked Potato Salad, wild rice pilaf and a chef attended carving station. I personally haven’t been to lunch there but I’m going off of their website. Dinner is a much different gourmet dining experience! Offering a four course meal, you won’t leave this restaurant hungry! I’m a rather large guy, and it takes allot to fill me up so for me to say I felt satisfied, you can only imagine how much food you’ll get. For both lunch and dinner the menu rotates based on the wishes of the chef instructors. Last night we had options such as pan sautéed mussels with leeks and garlic, an Oregon style lamb patty, delicious soups, incredible salads, a monstrous main course, and a delicious dessert. The star of the show was definitely the espresso rubbed fillet mignon, but the stuffed pork loin wasn’t a bad choice either. I was impressed with my pan roasted salmon fillet! Dessert was the perfect capstone to a great dinner menu with offerings such as creme brûlée, and a molten chocolate cake.
So how good can this inexpensive gourmet dining really be? Let’s put it this way…. I call to make reservations for the next week just as I’m walking out the door! I think that the members of our dining group can all agree that we haven’t really had anything we didn’t care for, and the portion sizes are perfect for us. The courses appear promptly when we are ready for them and the service is top notch. In fact the waiter from one week will be the chef students the next, as they rotate in and out of the kitchen for experience in both the front and back of the house. So where else can you get truly gourmet dining at $15 a head? Calling this cheap gourmet dining doesn’t do Cafe 101 justice, instead I’ll refer to it as inexpensive gourmet dining. When was that last time you have seen just a fillet mignon for under $15 on a menu? You won’t! At dessert the first night, the consensus of the group is that if we were in a commercial gourmet dining location, we probably would have paid well over $100 a couple for the meal we received, so this is a huge savings! The quality is very good and I would venture to say 5 star. Vegetarian meals are available upon advanced request (when making your reservations). What if you don’t care for the food? Simply tell the host and he will do everything in his power to fix the problem. We haven’t needed to use his services for this reason yet but he seems very accommodating.
The first time we attended this gourmet dining experience, we did run into a little issue with payment. It turns out their credit card processor was down. Yes they accept cash and credit cards, but we didn’t have any cash on us at the time. We just walked a bit of a ways over to the ATM machine located on campus and grabbed cash that way. It wasn’t a really big deal, but could be a pain if you or a guest really isn’t all that mobile. The second time around we just brought cash which made it a bit easier. Another side note that you may also find important is that if you leave a tip, it does not go to the waiter or waitress. The tip itself goes directly to the Daytona State College Culinary program. At first I had mixed emotions about this,a s I have always felt a waiter was entitled to their tips no matter the circumstances, but since these are college students working for college credit and experience I figured it isn’t so bad.
While there is no dress code for this restaurant, we have found that some people come dressed to the 9’s and other seemed more casual. I think either would be appropriate for this restaurant. Because we generally go straight from work, I’m usually wearing khaki pants, but so long as you’re attire selection isn’t offensive I don’t think they would turn you away. We have seen well behaved children at the first dinner we attended, but I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable bringing small children such as babies or toddlers. I don’t know if they offer high chairs, and there is no kids menu. Cafe 101 would make the perfect date night!
So have I inspired you to try some gourmet dining at Daytona State College’s Cafe 101? I hope so.. Now remember I still want to be able to get reservations at this restaurant so lets just keep this secret between us shall we?
Cafe 101 Gourmet Dining Details:
|Date(s):||M-F||Time(s):||Noon W Dinner 5:30 & 6:00|
|Address:||1200 W. International Speedway Blvd
Daytona Beach FL 32114
|Estimated Cost For A Family of 4:||$60 Dinner / $44