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Restaurants & Bars 2

Review of Cafe Esin, San Ramon

Kim Cooper | Apr 12, 200512:12 AM

After having asked for a nice dining spot in San Ramon and looking at their website, we decided to try Café Esin despite some mixed reviews.
We arrived at 7:20 for a 7:30 reservation, and were told we would be seated in a few minutes. No problem – we were early. We sat at a table in the small bar area, which apparently did not have table service, so we didn’t feel bad about not drinking before dinner. There was lots of good people-watching. The place was hopping! Apparently there was a big birthday party there, and they were generally very busy too. So we were seated at 7:45. A bit of a wait, but not too bad, and the worst part of the evening was now behind us.
We looked at the wine list, but there were no wines by the glass. So we ordered a half bottle of Pinot Gris from Oregon. (King Estate, I think.) At $15 it was the least expensive on the wine list, but it was very nice – crisp and clean.
We started with carrot-ginger soup and a beet, goat cheese, greens, and pecan salad. The soup was very very smooth and light, with a hint of ginger. Beautiful. The beets were very fresh and intensely flavorful, the salad well-balanced.
Our main courses were: Pork loin with pear-dried cherry chutney that were perfectly matched. The pork was flavorful, grilled lines with a real browned flavor, with the sweetish chutney – wonderful taste but a tiny bit tough. Or the knife was dull. (A pet peeve of mine – most restaurant knives are dull because porcelain has sand in it and dulls the knives fast, and I don’t think they ever check them.) It was served with polenta and asparagus.
The other main course was a chicken breast with herbed feta in a filo dough crust. The chicken was tender and must have been free range because it really tasted like chicken. The cheese even gained some of the flavor of the chicken and was wonderfully half-melted. The crust was lightly crisp and perfect. It was served with a couscous with a tomato coulis. Very nice.
For dessert we had a pear-ginger crisp. Delicate and satisfying. We had Aqua Perfecta in raspberry – a raspberry liquor. Thick and not super sweet, and lovely.
When we first received the bill, the waitress had not included the raspberry liquor, so when we pointed it out she thanked us quite nicely. It came to about $86 before the tip.
All in all, a very nice evening and a good meal.

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