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Restaurants & Bars

Alameda day: Asena + St. George's

Windy | Nov 13, 200503:44 PM    

I dropped by the open house at St. George's yesterday, and the first friendly faces I saw were Rochelle and Michael, who advised me on getting a sampling of the unique tea-flavored liquor (made with vanilla chardonnay brandy and lapsang souchong) and the best ways to grab a bite of sausage before crowds swarmed the tray bearer.

It was a fun if hectic afternoon. I wished I hadn't had as much to drink the night before. I hadn't been by the hangar before, but it's a knockout setting and view of San Francisco. In between rounds of cosmos made with Mandarin orange blossom vodka, we took a walk around the base at dusk and watched the geese and the container ships unloading for the week.

The focus was definitely all on the liquids, though, and if you were there to eat, you'd have been better off at Rosenblum's open house around the corner. Buttery twists and oysters ran out by 3; the Recchiuti fleur de sels were rationed with the lovely raspberry liquor ($20 and not as sweet as Bonny Doon's framboise, which it's similar to). June Taylor offered tastes of a strawberry rose geranium preserve and damson plum jam, both excellent, along with luxurious syrups. Jing brought along sliced pork sausage and tongue, which seemed like a smart move.

We then moved over to Asena on Santa Clara for a charming dinner. Mustafa is Turkish, and his staff produces huge volume and variety from a tiny kitchen. My friends are regulars, but everyone is welcomed warmly. The food is all over the map, with Mediterranean choices look like the best bet. Low wine markup (we had a couple of bottles of Rosenblum zin) and $10 corkage, plus a full bar featuring more Hangar One vodkas. I drank a lot of water.

Highlights:
-warm bread served with olive oil and Balsamic dip
-kabocha ravioli in mascaparone
-a splendid osso bucco, with huge veal bones pointing skyward from the mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables

I also scarfed a bite of Karen's tiger prawns with chipotle fettucine.
For dessert they serve delectable demi-tasse cups of steamed chocolate pudding with milk and fresh ground pepper (someone help me out with what this is--it's not on the menu).

Even the house salads are delicious, if overdressed. Prices are modest and portions are generous. Entrees are all under $20 and include salad or soup. Reservations recommended on weekends. I gather they're also open for lunch, but didn't see the menu. Mild seasoning and fresh mostly local ingredients. I'd put this high on my comfort food index pushed over the top by being treated like old friends.

Any other reports?

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