Tag Archive for downtown

Neumanali

Neumanali is one of Hayward’s few fine dining restaurants. Bijou, just a few blocks up B Street, is the only other one that immediately comes to mind. Neumanali is tucked away by the downtown Hayward BART station in a beautiful Victorian that most people don’t even realize is a restaurant as they walk past.

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I’ve wanted to check it out since we relocated here. Early December, I invited another couple who loves good food to come along. The restaurant had an intimate feel despite the lively large party being hosted that night. Discounting that group and ourselves, there was only one other table used throughout our meal.

Neumanali provides typical white tablecloth service despite having a tiny staff. Warm, rosy lighting means photos aren’t as well focused as I’d like, but I’m sharing them anyhow.

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The walls were forest green and decorated with people-pleasing Impressionist paintings of orchestral groups, except for the bathroom that randomly featured nudes. To my taste, the atmosphere is stuffy but I absolutely want to try it again in warmer weather when we can sit on their lovely patio.

Dinner started out great, with us sharing two bottles of Eden Canyon’s Freedom from the Press 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon over the course of the night and enjoying soft, bubbly bread with olive oil, balsamic, and strong garlic.

Another commonality shared between Neumanali and Bijou is that both restaurants serve up new American cuisine with an eye toward French preparations. Our friends started with the warm goat cheese salad that comes with grilled pears and mixed greens.

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Praise of “this is fabulous” and “that was a spectacular salad” rang out, making it one of the most enjoyed courses of the night. Friend #1’s grilled rosemary rack of lamb with roasted potatoes, heirloom grains, and a pomegranate reduction sauce was probably the only course praised more highly.

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In the forefront of that picture are eggplant chips that weren’t listed on the menu. Friend #1 declared she could eat a whole bag of them. They were thick enough to give her something to bite into while maintaining a delightfully crunchy exterior. She also exclaimed over the heirloom grains, which turned out to be close to a sweet version of rice pilaf.

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Sapporo

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Sapporo is the sushi restaurant’s answer to the overly familiar neighborhood pub. If you need to be greeted warmly by a hostess and have your every need catered to in a reasonable time frame, I’m not sure it’s the place for you. There’s nothing wrong with those expectations, but Sapporo won’t meet them. Instead, the tiny staff—consisting of one waitress and the sushi chef Sam—will get to you in due time, and your drink order will likely be yelled across the restaurant.

As soon as you see the restaurant’s interior, you’ll realize it’s a playful joint. Keep yourself entertained while waiting for service by looking at the polaroids covering the walls and booths.

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And keep that playfulness in mind as you realize Sam’s banter with the regulars is far more entertaining than the photos. Otherwise, you may be worried actual insults are being flung around rather than friends skewering each other. Heck, not knowing for certain is part of the appeal.

Sam, the sushi chef.

Sam, the sushi chef.

But I think the existence of a Crazy Sammy roll resolves that question pretty well.

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1 Weekend, 8 New Raleigh Hotspots

Last summer, the husband and I moved away from the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina after spending eight years watching the cities expand and their food scenes skyrocket off the heat-charts. Seriously, the New York Times is obsessed with the place! So I was excited to head back for the weekend in mid-September—my head’s still spinning from the other side of the country over all the new foodie destinations that have sprung up just this past year.

Downtown Raleigh

Downtown Raleigh

While my husband gave a presentation at NC DevCon, I decided to spend my weekend exploring as many of downtown Raleigh’s newly opened spots as possible. Why Raleigh and not the rest of the Triangle? I had no car and was staying downtown. It’s that simple. I needed to focus on places I could walk to.

After our flight in, my first stop was Jose and Sons (327 W. Davie St.) for dinner. It’s the newest incarnation of one of my favorite Triangle restaurants, Jibarra, located in the fast-redeveloping Warehouse District right by the train depot.

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Jose and Sons is now more Southern-Mexican fusion, whereas it had been pure upscale Mexican food in the past. While I remain skeptical about the value of $8 guacamole—

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–and the shrimps and grits didn’t have nearly enough heat for me—

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–I have to give solid props to the Booze and Mango cocktail.

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That’s dessert in a glass, and it’s a beautifully balanced one, too. Vanilla rum, Grand Marnier, cream, and what Jose and Son’s calls a mango popsicle and I’d call a mango-flavored ice cube make for a worthy night cap.

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