camino for real!

Tuesday, may. 20, 2008   |   0 comments

So Camino, the fine-eating restaurant up the street that’s been trying to open its doors for like a year now (it started out as a furniture store, so I guess it had a lot of metamorphing to do) is finally, finally open for business! Marco and I sort of crashed the opening party on Friday night when we innocently strolled slowly by, our necks craning for a glimpse inside, and then a friend of a friend recognized me and we got pulled inside, yay! It’s very pretty in there, all exposed brick and crazy-huge chandeliers and wooden ex-church chairs (bought in bulk on eBay!). But it was very hot and crowded, and we were already packed full from our own dinner which meant we couldn’t take proper advantage of the free food and drink and gawking.

So last night Marco and I decided to do it right and we threw on some finery and marched all 200 feet or so up there and asked for a table. And there was already a wait! On their second night open! (The owners, at least the man half, come from a long tenure at Chez Panisse, so they do have the momentum of reputation on their side.)

We happily agreed to do our waiting at one of the cute vintage metal painted tables at the bar, where I got myself a one of their special tart and icy ginger-mint-“rhum” drinks—pure liquid delight. And then we had a pork-spread toasty thing, which tasted way better than it sounded and also looked (tan, tan, and more tan). And then we noticed none other than Alice Waters and her entourage of ponytailed and natural-fibered Berkeley sorts at the bar—so clearly everyone had to wait!

But soon enough we were seated at one of the bowling-alley-long communal tables, where more drinks were ordered and sipped down with vim, and we got down to eating—sausage salad for Marco (possibly the best sausage I’ve ever sausaged?) and artichoke heart and nettle surprise with polenta for me. Glorious! And then for dessert a cherry crumble with generous dollop of whipped heaven on top!

For those who share my fear of the “popping eyeball” sensation some cherry-related deserts offer, I can assure you that this is a sweet you can order without risk of off-putting mouth sensations! For that crumble was all sticky and gooey, and not at all pop.

Another word to the wise: Don’t miss the jet-propelled air blasters in the bathroom, which assault your hands with so much force they cause your skin to ripple and morph. You know how in the movies, when the guy is strapped to the front of a speeding train and his face starts to flap and pool outward? Like that.

In short, Camino on Grand: offering sausage salads, nettled things, loose cherries, and also bathrooms that will simply blow you away! Bam! Who just typed that? I did.


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