Brighter Days

A friend heads for sunnier climes -- and Oakland's LCX

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le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS Kayday, she doesn't so much like it in Seattle, and this comes as no surprise to me. Or her. Or you, probably, if you've ever been there. If not, just go to weather.com and sample a 10-day forecast, any 10 days, this time of year. That'll give you some idea what she's up against. It's a beautiful city with good coffee and, traditionally, strong music, but that doesn't make it any kind of long-term livable for a sunny-dispositioned nature such as Kayday's.

This bodes well for the eventual re-existence of our band, which (to be fair) has been not only Seattled but New Orleansed into a pretty perpetual state of discontinuation.

We'll have our day.

Meanwhile, Kayday keeps coming down for the weekend. One time it was Thanksgiving. Just a day or two beforehand we were talking or texting and I said, not meaning much by it, "What are you doing for the holiday?"

"Oh, I don't know," she said. "You?"

"Smoking a big fat turkey," I said. "In Berkeley." Then, though it seemed like a long shot: "Wanna come down and eat with us?"

She did! Which impressed me, considering how hard it is to get city-side folks to cross the bridge for dinner.

Kayday came back again just a few weeks after, in the meat of December, by which time the planet was so dang tilted folks up there had mold in their ears. Many had forgotten what daylight even looks like.

It's dark when she goes to work in the morning, Kayday said, and dark again by the time she comes home.

"That sounds downright Germanic," I said. "What are you doing by way of anti-depressant?"

"Plotting to move back to San Francisco," she said.

When she's here, she goes for long runs in Golden Gate Park, which is known to fog over, too — but apparently it's a different, more cheerful quality of fog.

I believe it. Anyway, we went to LCX for dinner: me, her, and Hedgehog. LCX stands for Le Cheval um ... used to be. I guess.

Because that's the situation here. What used to be Le Cheval in downtown Oakland is now Le Cheval a.k.a. LCX in downtown Oakland. Only a block away from where it was.

What happened: about a year ago, after fifteen years at Clay and (I think) 10th, Le Cheval got evicted. Boo. Hiss.

But, in the spirit of showmustgoonmanpersonship — hooray — they opened LCX, which is run by the old owner's son. There are still Le Chevals in Berkeley and Walnut Creek, but the downtown Oakland one is now this: this ... wine bar. With food.

I can't tell if it's the same, because I hadn't been to the old Le Cheval in a long time, before they closed, but my sense is no.

Yes.

Maybe.

Well, the only thing I recognized on our table was fried calamari, which was every bit as tender and delicious as I remembered from the old place. It came with a little bowl of salty peppery lemony dipping juice, which it didn't really even need. Just a little.

Perhaps not coincidentally, I also ordered bo luc lac, chunks of grilled tenderloin steak with green beans. And that came with the same salt-pepper-lemon dip. With or without which, the dish was fantastic: the meat was tender, rare, and garlicky, and the beans had real snap to them.

Alas, my buds were not so lucky in their ordering. Kayday was OK with her beef with vegetables, but Hedgehog did not like her lemon grass beef. And I agree it was lame — neither lemony nor grassy. I blame her misfortune on Lotus Garden, in the Mission, for making such an event out of their lemon grass chicken. Remember? It was so good that Hedgehog can't stop ordering lemon grass this and that, even when she's not at Lotus Garden.

I know how that is.

LCX

Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri. and Sat. 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Sun.

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