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Lunch at Battambang, Dessert at Scharffen Berger (longish)

Rod Williams | May 20, 200511:29 PM

One of the joys of my current temporary (?!) unemployment is having the opportunity to meet friends for lunch all over the Bay Area. Today, I headed for downtown Oakland to meet a friend who's on jury duty in the Alameda County Superior Court. We had a delightful lunch at Battambang Cambodian Restaurant (850 Broadway, between 8th & 9th Streets).

Lunch specials come with a rather insipid soup -- a weak chicken broth with cabbage and carrots. But then came a splendid seafood red curry, with mussels, squid, shrimp, and small chunks of salmon and halibut. Everything perfectly cooked, tender and tasty. I'm not at all familiar with Cambodian cuisine, but this red curry was very similar to ones I've had in Thai restaurants, rich, complex and coconut-creamy. The server asked me how spicy I wanted it, and the "medium" was just as I like it. Even better was the smoky grilled eggplant stuffed with ground pork and basil.

The menu offered "young coconut juice" as a beverage option, which was too interesting to pass up. I liked it -- light, refreshing and very slightly sweet.

Strolling back to the courthouse, we noticed a new restaurant -- Tamarindo -- under construction at 468 8th Street between Broadway & Washington. The sign describes it as a Mexican tapas/wine bar, and it's planned to open sometime in June.

Later in the afternoon, I just happened to be in the neighborhood of Scharffen Berger chocolate factory and its Cafe Cacao when the coffee muse whispered in my ear. So I stopped in for a remarkably good cappuccino with the thickest, creamiest foam I've had in ages floating over a smooth, earthy, chocolatey coffee with a flavor that just went on and on. Couldn't resist a slice of chocolate brioche bread pudding mit Schlag to put me way over the top. It was glorious to sit out on Cafe Cacao's terrace in the beautiful sunshine and watch the world go by. OK, maybe I'll get a job *next* week...


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