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.
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.
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.
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.
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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