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TransBay Dinner: K&L, South Park, China Village

Melanie Wong | Mar 30, 200411:04 PM

Snarled traffic due to Thursday night’s rains delayed our bridge crossing for East Bay errands. We ducked into K&L Wines to bide our time and, unfortunately, just missed the regular Thursday afternoon tasting. But I did snag one sampling of the 2002 d’Arenberg “Magpie” Shiraz-Viognier that was just what we needed to take the edge off traffic nerves. It was good too with velvety mouthfeel and thick plummy fruit complicated by roasted nuts, smoke, anise, and floral tones.

Giving up on a second attempt to make it to the Bay Bridge, we then parked ourselves at the bar at South Park Café to share a couple glasses of wine and a warm goat cheese and frisee salad. The first wine was the 2002 Chateau Trinquevedel Tavel Rosé, refreshingly crisp with rosey fruit finishing long with a minerally aftertaste that was spectacular with the goat cheese and the bits of pink shallots in the vinaigrette. Our second glass was the 2001 Ridge "Three Valleys" Sonoma County Zinfandel blen (50% zin), which Malik had recommended to me a couple weeks ago. A bit lighter-bodied than other Ridge Zins, it still had plenty of intensity and ebulient fruit, spice, and oak tones. This one took a bit longer to open and grow on me, but I liked its balance and lithe frame.

After our appointments in the East Bay, we finally settled into China Village in Albany for dinner's final courses. The fire-bursted mustard greens, so good this time of year, hit the perfect balance of chilis, salt and numbing peppercorns. I had called ahead to save an order of knife-cut noodles. The chef made dalu mian, as a special request, as its not on the menu. The wide, toothsome noodles were bathed in a thickened stock with slices of stir-fried beef, seafood, eggflower, chunks of tomato, mushrooms, and a good dose of Sichuan peppercorns. My dining companion soon commented that his tongue was numb from the seasonings - a successful first visit.

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