Open for a matter of weeks or months, these new spots show promise with dishes I'm still thinking about...
LE BORDEAUX - French sausage
The new Le Bordeaux, tucked away in North Beach, holds some subtle surprises. General description: ultra-traditional French bistro fare in a Euro cafe with woodsy, rustic country lodge feel. It's a blessedly mellow respite for lunch or dinner. The winning dish thus far is Boudin blanc ($18), that light, gentle white pork sausage I love so, common in France as well as in New Orleans cuisine.
It sits atop a mound of caramelized apples and crumbled speculoos, a graham cracker-reminiscent cookie/biscuit. Savory and sweet, the plump sausage dribbles its juices over pastry crumbs. Just like dessert… but with sausage.
524 Union Street
RENDEZVOUS TAPAS LOUNGE - orange blossom beignets
The new Rendezvous Tapas Lounge may be roomy to the point of stark, but shared plates at the hands of executive chef Mattin Noblia's (who many know from Top Chef fame or at his previous restaurant, Iluna Basque) are made with care. Paper-thin, citrus-radiant octopus carpaccio ($12) and warm, stuffed piquillo peppers ($7) oozing with soft goat cheese, stand out. Orange blossom beignets ($7) truly do dissolve in the mouth. Yes, we've seen plenty of beignets on dessert menus in recent years, but orange blossom is an inspired accent, while these eggy-light beignets evoke my favorite Chinese baked goods by way of France. Not too sweet, they are fluffy and comforting.
Of note, the weekend brunch (savory or sweet crepes, crawfish bisque, mimosas, Bloody Marys, etc...) intrigues with a DJ spinning old school hip hop and bar manager Anthony Baker serving off-menu cereal cocktails. Golden Grahams are shaken with Jameson, milk and honey simple syrup (or Honey Nut Cheerios with Amaretto, Fruit Loops with berry vodka) for that finish one gets when nearing the milky bottom of a cereal bowl.
2080 Van Ness Avenue
CANA - Cuban pastries
Oakland's new Cuban cafe, Cana, is a welcome addition in a region sparse on Cuban treats. Pretty much a walk-up counter with one table inside plus patio seating, Cana scratches the Cuban itch with eats like a hefty Cubano ($8.50) loaded with pork, ham and Swiss cheese, crunchy with pickle, contrasted by hot mustard. But I go for the pastries, like a chocolate ancho chile cookie, or a flan-like guava tart (Pastry de Guayaba), silky subtle with guava. Sip a custom-ground Cafe Cubano or other espresso drink for a robustly sweet accompaniment. Watch for their soon-to-open, next door bar/lounge focused on rum & agricole cocktails, with an in-house cane press (!), cigars, their cafe menu, and live music.
530 Lake Park Avenue, Oakland
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