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Dinner at Verbena

Michael Rodriguez | Jan 15, 200401:12 AM

Chowfish mentioned the new chef at Verbena (Broadway and 11th in Oakland). My wife and I had dinner there Tuesday night. We shared a starter of fried calamari with fennel batons and lemon slices. We liked this a lot. The calamari was crispy and tender; the vegetables provided interesting contrasts.

She then ate a large piece of grilled Atlantic salmon served with a crispy potato cake, aragula, and roasted red pepper salad and tapanade. It sounds too busy but wasn't. The salmon was cooked just the way she likes it--the outside a little crusty, the inside deep red and creamy.

I ordered a pastino risotto--a risotto made not with rice but a very small pasta. The risotto included scallops, salmon, and shrimp. The stock in which rthe risotto had been cooked was very flavorful. I thought it was a fish stock, but the server said it was a vegetable stock.

We agreed the new chef is as good as the previous chef, which is pretty darned good.

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