Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A First Taste of Local Cafe on Piedmont

By John Birdsall
Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 6:20 PM

“What didn’t you like about that?” David Crombie asks. He’s spotted my empty plate, the one that had a meatball sandwich and a demitasse cup of gingery carrot soup minutes before, and deploys a time-honored bit of server banter. Crombie’s co-owner (with Megan Burke) of Local Café, which opened last week at 4395 Piedmont Avenue, next-door to Adesso.

At 12:45 p.m., the crowd here looks like bridge players in Montclair tournament pausing for lunch: a lady in a cashmere turtleneck, a gentleman in a nicely pressed short-sleeve shirt, and more than one coiffure’s the work of a salon. Still, Local Café looks modern, handsome, with large-scale gray tiles on the back wall, warm woods, and Shinto-style counter stools.

The meatball sandwich.

The seating may make a gesture toward contemporary Japan, but Local’s lunch menu is strictly Bay Area Cal-Med (until dinner starts in late September, it’s strictly breakfast and lunch, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Tue.-Sun.). Colin Etezadi, 28, who’s worked at Camino, Pizzaiolo, and Boot & Shoe Service, is overseeing an opening menu that wouldn’t feel out of scale at any of those places (if they served sandwiches, that is). The plate shown here, in low-light iPhone splendor, held a pretty good pork meatball sandwich ($10), with an uncomplicated tomato sauce and a thick flurry of Parmesan shavings on top, in a toasted Acme torpedo roll. It came with that cup of carrot soup in the picture, which had a sort of elegantly gilt profile thanks to full-fisted seasoning with ginger and a surface pool of crème fraiche. Also, it wasn’t too thick. Carrot soups almost always are.

Really, there was nothing that I didn’t like about that. Looking forward to going back.

Get in touch at John.Birdsall@EastBayExpress.com, and follow me on Twitter @John_Birdsall.

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