Oakland Restaurant Week: Camino

San Francisco has “Dine About Town” where selected restaurants in the City offer 2 course lunches for $17.95 and 3 course dinners for $34.95.  It really encourages people to try out restaurants that they’ve never been to or allows people to save a few bucks at restaurants they enjoy eating at.  Being in its tenth year, I imagine that it is a pretty successful program.  Cross over the Bay Bridge and Oakland celebrated its own exciting food scene with Restaurant Week.  Restaurants offered meals at $20, $30, and $40.

I celebrated Oakland by dining at Camino for dinner.  Camino is located on Grand Avenue in the Lakeshore District.  It’s been over a year since I last dined at Camino so I was looking forward to it.  There are two things that Camino is well known for – their cocktails and their open kitchen fireplace.  The three of us were seated at a table closest to their open kitchen.  I couldn’t help to wonder if my opentable.com reservation got us such a great table.

The cocktail list is pretty unique.  I randomly ordered the pisco drink.  It was served with lemon, gum syrup, and egg white.  I believe it is their version of a pisco sour.  It was very tasty and I can understand why their mixologists get such rave reviews.  Their Oakland Restaurant Week Fixed Menu for $30 offered a fennel, daikon, kohlrabi and chervil salad, half a Dungeness crab grilled in their famous fireplace, and citrus compote with orange sabyon.  I went with the fixed menu.

Before our appetizers came out, they served an amuse-bouche of pickled celery.  This tiny bite was simply tasty.  The salad was beautifully presented with each ingredient shaved very thinly.  I felt a little like a rabbit eating these raw vegetables that were a little bland.  I didn’t feel that the sliced parmesan and olive oil was enough flavor for the salad.

I was excited for my Dungeness crab to come out.  I had seen a batch cooking on the grill next to the burning fireplace when we had arrived.  The crab was accompanied with grilled winter chicories, sunchokes, beets, and chilis.  The crab was absolutely delicious.  I’ve never had it cooked in this method and never had crab so good.  One additional item on the plate that really impressed me was the sunchoke.  It was starchy and looked like wedged potatoes.  I didn’t realize what it was and thought it tasted very much like artichoke.  The waitress told me it was a sunchoke otherwise known as a Jerusalem artichoke, which is in the sunflower family and not actually a type of artichoke.  Note to self to experiment with some sunchokes as they were great.

Dessert was a variety of citrus fruit accompanied by sabyon and lemon tuiles.  This may be my first experience having sabyon.  Sabyon is a light creamy custard and this version was smooth and delightful.  Tuiles, another word I didn’t know refers to thin crisp lace cookies.

Restaurant Week prompted me to dine at Camino again and it makes me feel great to live in a City with such great dining options.