Oakland: Dinner at Camino
On my last trip to SF, I decided to fly into Oakland and check out the scene there. After having drinks at Boot & Shoe Service, we headed to Camino for dinner. I had heard so much about this restaurant and had a great bite from last year’s LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade event.
After looking over the menu, we went appetizers heavy and ordered the duck salad, local squid and grilled Roman squash to start.
I went back and forth on the duck and squid. Which one did I like better? It’s hard to say. I loved the meatiness of the duck giblet confit toast and the really fresh squid, barely cooked to retain all the flavor. It was always fun biting into the squid because it was never chewy.
The duck salad was also served with escarole and grilled duck besides the duck giblet confit (don’t you just want to say that out loud? Or better yet, eat it?). Thinking about it a month and half later, I still want both in my life. Regularly. I guess I’m lucky I have friends moving to Oakland soon so I can hopefully get this again.
For the Roman squash, I obviously didn’t read the menu very carefully and took a big forkful of what I thought was burrata. Uh, it was horseradish. After I down a glass and half of water, I was able to carefully enjoy the squash with tiny bits of horseradish. The squash also came with a beet and carrot salad.
For our main courses, we got the Romano beans with roasted tomato and thyme to share. Oh fantastic. These beans were great.
My friend got the vegetarian entree. We thought it was interesting there was no meat options on the menu that night (just chicken, vegetarian or seafood). The perfect bite is a little bit of everything on the plate from the shellbeans to the mushrooms to the artichoke.
I’ve always liked sand dabs. And I liked Camino’s version though I had not expected to debone the fish myself. I had a bad experience choking on a fish bone at Spago once and never quite recovered. So if you see me eating boned fish funny, that’s why. After carefully taking away any bones I could fine, I then cautiously enjoyed my dish.
My friend had the most amazing Bronx grapes at Camino about a year ago and said we were lucky to get them in season then. We tried them and I have to say they were a little past their prime. They were a bit mushy. I did love the figs though. I excused myself to go to the restroom and there was another bunch of Bronx grapes. Okay, let’s try again. No, still mushy. Maybe we should make something with the grapes? Muddled in a cocktail, maybe?
We also got the plum sorbet which surprised me as it was a bit on the sweeter side. I like things just a bit more tart.
I had been pleasantly surprised by the cocktail selection. They had classics as well as several unnamed drinks I thought were their originals. I chose a gin cocktail and later rum. My friend had the rye sour.
Rye Sour- rye, lime, honey, egg white, toasted caraway seeds
Gin – lemon, Cocchi, orange liqueur, absinthe
Rum – orange, lemon, orgeat, gum syrup
I quite liked the rye sour with the caraway. If you like aquavit, this could be an interesting drink for you as it has the caraway profile. The gin and rum cocktails were exquisitely simple, perfectly executed. If we had more time, I would have liked to have tried the mezcal drink (mezcal, lime, cayenne, agave, orange liqueur) which sounds like a margarita with mezcal. There’s a mocktail named Freedom which sounded great with plum, lemon, rosemary and gum syrup.
We later finished up with more cocktails over at Prizefighter in Emeryville. I’d say it was a very successful Oakland night!
Camino3917 Grand Ave., Oakland, CA 94620 — (510) 547-5035 © The Minty 2012