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French Classics at “A” Street Café, Hayward

Melanie Wong | May 4, 200307:30 PM

The triangulation of participants’ driving distances calculated Hayward as the compromise venue for the next leg of the progressive birthday party. To date, my chow experience in Hayward had been limited to ‘cue and tacos, and I was more than a little skeptical when my friends found a French restaurant – “A” Street Café - for us to try.

The outside and inside of “A” Street Café are very pink – pink canopy, pink drapes, pink linens, pink walls, pink silk flowers. White lace curtains, candles on each table, and the solo tuxedo-clad waiter add to the swank aspirations. Yet, this also presents itself as a casual place - a café with a couple counter seats, simple place settings, and a small alleyway of a dining room dominated by the refrigerator stocked with wine and beer as shown below.

Because the traffic gods smiled upon me, I was the first to arrive. From the SF side of the Bay Bridge down 580 to the restaurant only took 30 minutes at 5:30pm on a Wednesday night. This gave me a chance to speak with the proprietress before our meal. The husband and wife who own the place immigrated from Hong Kong. The husband learned French cuisine from his many years cooking at L’Etoile, one of the former bastions of classic French cooking in the City. Things were starting to look brighter for me! I started to study the menu and found entrecote marchand de vin, veau forestiere, sole meuniere, canard a l’orange, and other standards. Entrees ranged from $14.50 for fettuccini primavera to $22 for the special of the day, scallops with beurre blanc. Most hovered around $18, and include a choice of soup or salad.

The soup of the day was cream of asparagus. Our waiter brandished a 2-foot high mill for freshly ground pepper. The rich aroma of fresh asparagus was layered with cream and butter. Ah, yes, this brings back memories of how French food used to be! Wonderfully silky and smooth, and garnished with asparagus tips, this texture showed the hand of a real chef. We all loved this soup.

The appetizer menu listed quenelles and I had to get an order for the table. My girlfriends had their first taste of what I described as “gefilte fish” and were beguiled. These were tender and light as a feather in a creamy and intensely flavored sauce nantua studded with juicy and succulent shrimp. We mopped up all the sauce with the overly puffy slices of near tasteless baguette.

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