For those of you familiar with the little town a ferry-ride away, you may remember the good ol' days when Servino's was still a tiny, romantic place tucked away in the back of Ark Row - where going to dinner was like visiting family (family with three uncles singing loud opera in the kitchen all night).
Well, 3 years back, Servino's took over Tutto Mare's enormous space on the water next to Guaymas and all the locals sighed at the loss of the great little restaurant. The space on Ark Row was vacant...and though rumors persisted about a French restaurant moving in, horrible luck (including a fire the week befoe opening) kept it empty for almost two years.
At last, Cafe Liaison has moved in and it is already a huge favorite with the locals. Though most of the patrons are currently older, my 20-something friends and I have discovered that this is the perfect place for us to splurge (per a 20-somethings tight budget) on delicious food when the work week comes to and end and we need some perking up. I've only been twice so far, but I'm already hooked. Both times, I entered in a horrible mood, exhausted and slightly peaky...and both times I left with rosy cheeks, a wonderfully full stomach, and about 10 times lighter on my feet in spite of the large meal.
Last Friday, Laura and I both started with Salade d'Epinards...wonderfully fresh small spinach leaves, gorgonzola, pear slices and walnuts with a delicious salty dressing. The salads were large and we didn't leave a spot on the plate.
For the main course, we both ordered the specials. She had two stuffed quail. The presentation was a little comical (the old lady next to us commented that that was how she looked when she fell in Sausalito the week before) but Laura said it tasted fantastic. I was so busy with my own dish that I never got around to tasting hers.
I ordered the swordfish steak (have since been chastised by my friends and promised not to order it any more) and was blown away. The portion was huge and juicy with a subtle, buttery sauce that didn't overwhelm the fish.
Dessert was a masterpiece. I had the Creme Brullee, slightly burned on top just the way I like it for fantastic flavor. Laura had profiteroles with an amazing gelato-ice cream like filling instead of creme. Both desserts came with rasberries generously spread throughout.
We had a bottle of Sancerre with the meals...which the servers all approved of since most of them are from Southern France.
With three courses, having both ordered specials, and a nice bottle of wine, the meal came to about $50 each.
The owner, Stefan Frere, is extraordinarily friendly (maybe it is the Italian half of him)...though his dry French humor may throw you off at first. On my initial visit, when I asked where I could hang my coat, he pointed to the back of the chair next to me and said "While right there, of course". Entirely gullible, I complied...to his great amusement. After a good chuckle, he took it away and hung it up for me.
He seems to have a good sense for which tables want to be left alone and which ones want company. If you are up for it, he'll sit down with you, tell you all about his history and how he came to Tiburon, and maybe even invite you to a party at his place later.
I definitely recommend this for anyone who wants a different kind of restaurant experience in Tiburon (Sam's, Guaymas, and Servino's are all a bit big an touristy). If Stefan is there, tell him that Kirsten (the girl who looks like his sister) sent you.
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