Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Lakeshore/Grand Restaurants

Wow, things are really happening out here. In addition to the much-touted and much-awaited Trader Joe's hitting our main street sometime this year, we are seeing a whole new crop of kick-ass restaurants in the area.

Last night, we went to the newly-opened Flavors of India, where we had a kick-ass (pardon the repeat), albeit slow, meal. We were warned about the backed-up kitchen though, so we knew we were in for a wait, but we still wanted to give it a try. It seemed like they were working out their first week kinks, so that wasn't a problem for me.

Having just finished the leftovers from last night, I'd have to say I'm extremely happy about its opening! We had veggie pakoras, lamb chole, and a chicken dish (I don't remember quite which one we got), garlic nann, onion kulcha, and a mango lassi.

I don't really know Indian food that well, so there's that. But I do know when things taste in balance and when bread has a good chew and when meat is tender and flavorful. And last night's dinner was all of those things and more. The reviews of the other location in Rockridge seem to indicate that they serve Northern Indian cuisine. The menu indicated that every dish was cooked to order and the vegan and kid-friendly dishes were marked clearly. The service was nice but you can tell the waitstaff was nervous, probably because they are all new to the restaurant (I don't know if anyone came over from the Rockridge location), and I'm sure they will get their groove on soon.

While searching around on Yelp for a review for this restaurant, I also found rave reviews of Neecha Thai, which is located on Grand Ave, where Cafe Pirawan used to be. It is an upscale (I can't tell how upscale) Thai restaurant, a branch of a well-loved one in San Francisco. Between this restaurant, Flavors of India, and L'amyx Tea Bar, it seems like the best candidates for the area are all branches of proven establishments. I don't know how I feel about that. Well, at least these are all local joints.

Another restaurant that recently opened in Grand Ave strip is Cafe DiBartolo. By "recently opened", what I actually mean is, "has been around for two years but I never even noticed because I'm oblivious like that". ... Well, ok then. I'll have to try it, as the reviews are pretty good.

Lakeshore has one additional new restaurant opening "soon" (I have no idea when): Vine, which bills itself as a wine bar and tapas lounge. I sure like tapas. I think it's because I'm Korean and always want a lot of little dishes around me when I eat. Just for my leftovers, I used one plate and two bowls! I don't know. I'm just like that.

Yet another eagerly-awaited restaurant will be coming next year:
Russell Moore—a chef and buyer for Chez Panisse—and partner Allison Hopelain will open a restaurant at 3917 Grand Avenue [map] in Janary 2008.

A few Grand Lake neighbors met with Russell and Allison on February 26 to hear the couple’s plans.

Although we’ll have to wait until early 2008 for the food, what we learned is that they intend for the restaurant to be warm, inviting, and affordable, serving good healthy meals to food lovers in both our and surrounding neighborhoods. They plan to procure their produce and meats as locally as possible.
- From Grand Lake Guardian.



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