Restaurants & Bars 11

Caffe 817

shocker | Sep 7, 2002 03:54 AM

i've heard plenty of murmurs about this place in the press and on the street but no mention 'round these parts.

early tuesday morning i popped in to confirm the accolades-- it's all true, i'm happy to report.

customers seemed to be most interested in the espresso drinks; i sauntered in for the food.

ordering a poached egg w/toast and ham ($3.50) and a keemun tea ($1.50ish), i grabbed my placard (in this case a playing card slipped into a metal stand) and relaxed into a nearby table.

the barista waved me over as my tea was placed on the counter. the keemun was served loose leaf, as i'd hoped it would be, in a small bodum type pot. i doctored the teacup w/milk from a craftily designed metal pitcher and sugar from a narrow illy sugar packet.

next thing i knew, another barista arrived w/my meal in hand-- two pieces of levain toast, w/the egg atop one, a mound of thinly sliced ham flecked w/parsley and two glass ramekins containing butter and preserves, respectively.

the meal was satisfying in the way that you constantly hear meals are supposed to be in the bay area; i find that i'm rarely as nourished by these hypothetical meals as i might be. this breakfast validated all the hype about the importance of products and treating them simply and w/respect.

the ham was briny, the eggs clean and fresh, the toast chewy and lightly caramelized. the whole meal seemed a purposeful yet slightly inadvertant apotheosis of the possibilities of 'california cuisine'. it highlighted the ideas and principles of 'california cuisine' w/o wallowing in the connotations.

writing all this seems a bit disingenuous, for as i savored the meal i had no interest in analyzing or jotting down notes. i was hungry; i wanted to eat, and i was fed.

Caffe 817
817 Washington Street (btwn 8th/9th)
Oakland, CA
510/271-7965
breakfast/lunch M-F

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