Plato once said, ‘Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity’, apparently, Chef Dakota Soifer of Café Aion thinks so too. Originally moving from Maine to study Contemporary Dance & Architecture, Soifer is no stranger to the idea of beauty through simplicity. Having opened Café Aion a short three and half years ago, Soifer continually accomplishes thoughtful but uncomplicated dishes to wow his audiences.
Cafe Aion, located modestly on University Hill, has a romantic atmosphere, one that is rustic, but authentic and uncluttered like his meals. Though it has been open a short time, Aion didn’t waste time gaining spot no. 8 in 5280’s top 25 restaurants. Aion boasts both a horseshoe-shaped bar as well tables for laid-back chatter and sips of good wine. Simplicity & candor, it seems, are a strong suit for the establishment, as the tables are situated conveniently by large windows that showcase the sweet summer, as well as the beauty of winter. You can pop into Café Aion six days a week, with a happy hour (3-6 pm and all night Tuesdays) menu of inexpensive but worthwhile treats, like Aion Potato Chips w/ smoked paprika & cumin, which are sure to leave everyone satisfied.
Aion offers light but confident meals; ones that move swiftly with the seasons, not only by the ingredients, but also by the techniques used & by the style of the dishes. Soifer loves tuning his food to seasonal aspects; it’s clear when he comments on his ‘go tos’ during different seasons, “braises in the winter, allspice in the fall, fennel in the spring, fresh chilies in the late summer…”
Among the seasonal changes, fans of this traditional Spanish Tapa restaurant respect its local ingredients and straightforward presentation, drawn upon food’s ’essential virtues’. From the popular fried cauliflower w/ saffron yogurt, cumin & lemon, to tasteful surprises like the house churned vanilla ice cream w/ EVOO and sea salt, there’s something to try for everyone. Not shockingly, Aion also has a humble wine list as well as intriguing drinks, like the Jalapeno Margarita, which can settle you into the mellow and thoughtful atmosphere.
Though I was impressed by Café Aion’s artful simplicity and expressively delicious food, my last experience there was somewhat of a disappointment. While I was attending The Start up Phenomenon Women Event, a few friends and I decided to try this cozy place. Unfortunately, the server had difficulty maintaining proper customer service and was continually failing to meet standards that would be expected of any sit down establishment. After we had ordered, we waited a generous amount of time before the eagerly expected meal showed up-about an hour later, and was not surprisingly, cold. Of course, our event felt dysfunctional and I decided that speaking to owner was in order.
The mood quickly changed as the owner not only apologized, but covered the cost of the meal as well. I was immediately taken aback by the contrast of the server’s initial poor impression and the owner’s demonstration of genuine concern and effort to make our experience a pleasant one. Instead of sloppily taking care of the situation in haste, Soifer made strides to make sure his establishment left no poor impressions, and he succeeded. I instantly overlooked the service, attributing it not to the establishment but the person at hand, and realized how much I would enjoy returning to the restaurant.
Although my experience was not entirely smooth, it was clearly something of a glitch rather than something to expect. Café Aion, in all, may have had a blip this time around, but is very enjoyable & heartening – and I look forward to my next visit.