Best Small-Plates Restaurant
Small-plate restaurants are all the rage, and it's easy to see their appeal. Instead of one or two courses, diners get to sample a diverse range of tastes and textures. In the small-plates world, the look of a dish is just as important as the dish itself. It's food as entertainment, and nowhere in the East Bay does it better than César. The menu offerings can send non-foodies scurrying for their cookbooks. Courses range from tapas like the calabracho a la bilbaina (rock cod filet in a pepper-garlic-sherry sauce) to bocadillo sandwiches (the manchego and greens is a longtime favorite) to platos grandes (the paella cesar serves up chorizo, clams, mussels, chicken, peas, and shrimp in a lobster broth) to the tocino de pato (smoked duck breast) found on the charcuteria and quesos menu. Just make sure to leave room for the tarta de Santiago (almond tort). If you want pedestrian, you've clearly come to the wrong place; this is food with a sense of entitlement. You have to really work at it to get full, but you may feel like you dropped in on the king of Spain's buffet. Once your waiter notices you — wearing Prada helps here — you'll be brought a complimentary plate of marinated kalamata olives to get you started. Wanna drink with your meal? The bloody marys are among the best you've ever tasted — even the virgin variety rocks — with enough flavor notes to make your taste buds think they've swallowed an orchestra. Specialty cocktails include the Cuban Manhattan and the Andalusian sidecar, in addition to a full list of wines, beers, and non-alcoholic sodas. César is not for the faint of wallet, but if you're gonna do it big, sometimes the best way is to go small.