Lamb fat can get pungent if heated, and I had a worry or two beforehand that lamb cooked in lamb fat would be a little too gamy, but the dinnertime kitchen (under chef Leo Salazar) succeeded in discreetly hitting the mute button, with the result a nice lamby — but not too lamby — flavor.
Complaints: the roast-carrot soup ($7), with a submerged reef of Emmentaler gratings, was tongue-searingly hot. A napoleon ($12) of sliced tomatoes and tabs of feta cheese was underseasoned, though the heirloom tomatoes were gloriously ripe. A pan bagnat ($10) featured a smear of tuna salad apparently made from ordinary canned tuna.
But all this was forgiven and then some when the list of digestifs was found to include Armagnac. Armagnac! A snifter for $8 — not bad. Could this be the next big thing? I sippingly pondered that question while the clafouti monster across the table dove into a griotte cherry version ($7) — eggy, I thought (upon a sample or two), but attractively so and baked in a handsome dish of white porcelain.
Cafe Claude must be one of the nicest spots in town to eat outside. There is less tumult and wind than on Belden, and while conventional wisdom teaches that the alfresco season is fleeting in this land of pampered softies, we must remember that the French have a different view: Parisians will take their coffee at sidewalk cafés even with snowflakes twirling softly down around them. So there is northern charm after all. SFBG
Continuous service: Mon.–Sat., 11:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m. Dinner: Sun., 5:30–10:30 p.m.
7 Claude Lane, SF