Tonight I needed a spot in greater san jose. My parents were staying in the Pruneyard, and visiting my niece is a daytime affair. In the evenings is my time to see them, so I offered a nightcap or "second dinner" local to them.
Y*lp directed me to Liquid Bread, in a way. It's not listed as the finest restaurant in Campbell, or the top bar, or the top beer bar, but more sophisticated reviews seemed excited. Also, open until 11pm - I thought we might leave at 10-ish, and I didn't want to be rushed.
Liquid Bread is right across from NaschMarkt, and actually hard to find, because it's tucked in next to a pizza place, and Katie Blooms. I walked by it once before I found it.
The decor is minimal but not unstylish. The walls are undecorated cinderblock painted a fetching warm brown color, and the tables are a slight upgrade from Ikea but not far. The tables outside are more pleasant.
The beer menu contains 20 taps and a lot more bottles. The taps that night included Ninkasi, and I had a Linden St and something Belgian. Great selection, the likes of which I haven't seen anywhere in the south bay, and reason alone to visit, if you like beer.
The chef provides another reason to visit.
As a grazing app before my party fully arrived, I had a kale appetizer that was quite pleasant. Braised, with roasted strawberries, and jicama, and goat cheese, the dish was daring and mostly successful. In my opinion the raw kale-ness of the kale didn't fully carry the dish, and I would have liked something a little punchy - like just a squeeze of fresh lime or some salt or _anything_.
The next dish had a better story. Tuesday night is burger night. Although the menu had a great sounding bavette and a few other bits, after a beer and a long day there's nothing quite like a great burger. Besides a well seasoned patty, the burger was nearly smothered in Béarnaise, some kind of pungent cheese, house-made pickles, and was _perfect_. I was effusive enough in my praise that the waitress told me the story. This burger used to be on the main menu, and the place got very popular for the burger. More than half of the covers were burgers, and the chef said, "this sucks, I'm trying to do inventive food here and I'm flipping burgers. I'm taking that off the menu - except tuesdays".
Desert, once my guests arrived was also solid, with a lavender cookie and a small pot of lemon curd. The lavender was unusually fragrant in the cookie, and the curd solid.
Finally, I liked the music. I'm not a fan of music in restaurants (if I notice, that's bad), but the tune list was interesting, with a nice mix of Lou Reed, Beck, some punk covers on early synth, moving into some early Beatles.
The place is, frankly, flawed. The chef is still working out his style, and I wish he could go stage at Manresa for a month or two. He's working out the kinks on a style that's a little unique, but closer to that veg-centric Manresa/Plum feel, but in a friendlier way. There's not the 10 ingrediant tweezer symphony dishes, but there is a real attempt to bring together tastes.
The crowd was very pleasant. It's the younger side of the geek community, not stuffy like NaschMarkt. BlueLine is the other place in Campbell that seems worth going, this is when you're feeling ready to try something Different.
I'd rather have another meal here than at Chez TJ or Baume, that's for sure. I saw a Yelp buddy checked in at Parcel 104, to which I would say "nyah nyah nyah" - I know I had a better meal than them.
Open until 11, at least for a while.