Restaurant Reviews: Flour+Water

I was looking forward to my visit to Flour+Water after they received rave reviews from the critics and high recommendations from friends.  I walked away slightly disappointed from a few missteps in the kitchen. I do believe that Flour+Water has the potential to be a great restaurant if they pay attention to some of the small details, and I’d be willing to give it another go.

The two antipasti we ordered were excellent and I felt we were off to a great start when we began with the:

Rabbit confit with eggplant, pine nuts, currants & wild arugula

Squash salad with their blossoms, hen cracklings & watercress

Both dishes highlighted the seasonal produce spot on and all of the flavors came together perfectly.

For our second course we decided to bypass the pizzas and order two of the pastas, and afterwards, we wished we had ordered more of the antipasti.  The two pastas we ordered were:

Mint tagliolini with artichokes, sicilian olives & calabrian chili

Vitello & taggiasca olive raviolini with sweet onion

Both pastas suffered from a flavor imbalance due to over-seasoning.  The tagliolini was too spicy and the raviolini was to salty and that was enough to overpower the dishes to the point of being unpleasant.  When you’re dealing with subtle flavors and ingredients you have to use care when seasoning.  This was probably due to an inexperienced cook in the kitchen that night and I’d be willing to give it another try in the future.

The dining room was Mission hip and compact with a buzz of happy diners.  The service was different from most other restaurants with the servers sharing all of the duties.  This is good and bad because you’ll always have someone there when you need something, and then, you’ll also have the servers repeating a lot of the same questions.

Flour+Water is worth a trip and hopefully next time I visit everything comes together more smoothly.

Restaurant Review: Camino

Camino remains one of my favorite places to eat in the East Bay.  The dining room is large and rustic and the focal points are the large communal tables that are crafted from a single redwood tree, and the expansive open kitchen with the open wood burning oven that produces most of the menus offerings.

I was fortunate to be dining with a large group of people and that allowed us to order almost everything on the compact menu of ten items.  Their wasn’t an item that we ordered that I wouldn’t order again.  Here’s the list:

Wood oven-baked oysters with absinthe, breadcrumbs and potato-parsley salad

Grilled tomato toast with cherry tomatoes, black-eyed peas and pounded basil

Grilled pork salad with fire roasted peppers, fried shallots and Belgian endive

Roasted duck consommé with duck lover toast and smoked duck breast

Grilled pork and herb sausages with fresh shell beans, escarole and grilled spring onion

Eggplant gratin with corn and scallion fritters, rapini and yellow lentils

Grilled local KIng salmon with Roman squash, tomato confit, green beans, black olives and preserved lemon

I look forward to my next visit from the Chez Panisse alums that are creating consistent, well crafted, rustic fare in a fun atmosphere.

Lunch at Bocanova

I had a nice lunch at Bocanova in Jack London Square in Oakland. We sat outside on the patio overlooking the waterfront. The food was good and the service is laid back. We tried the oysters on the half shell from Drake’s Bay with a tequila- citrus mignonette, the little gem caesar salad, and the duck pozole with fresh tortillas. Everything was fresh and the flavors were well balanced.

The restaurant had a very nice looking interior and I’m looking forward to going back and trying it out for dinner.