Miss Teri guessed it right. The restaurant I wrote about in my last post is, indeed, the Old Oakland location of Levende Lounge.
However, there are a few differences between this outpost. For one thing, it's got a much softer feel than the original Levende. Both are stunning in an uber-hip lofty way, but Levende East feels more elegant to me, a little more refined.
Also, where the menu at the Lounge is meant to be predominantly shared plates, Levende East takes a more traditional "course" approach. Oh, and that Bloody Mary Brunch they're so well-known for? Here you can enjoy it on Saturday instead of Sunday.
But other than that, you'll find the same quality of food coming out of Executive Chef Arren Caccamo's kitchen, a compact but well-chosen wine selection (with some 20+ wines by the glass), and cocktails to kill for.
Levende's Beet Salad ($9) is one of my new favorite things; in fact, I wish it was available in a slightly larger version with some form of protein at lunch. The goat cheese disks are coated in pecan crumbs and served warm for a heavenly contrast to the coolness of the beets and greens. The maple vinaigrette is an exceptional match to the other elements on the plate.
OK, let's talk ribs for a moment, shall we? You know those ribs that I raved about at Oola? Turns out, they're kind of chef Caccamo's invention (he was the chef de cuisine there, you see). And, well, he's made them... better. Guava-glazed-falling-off-the-bone-goodness. And then he sets them on top of mashed plantains which, while extremely tasty in their own right, are a bit too heavy for me to finish.
However, that will not stop me from ordering a Peanut Butter Pie for dessert. This is my new favorite feel-good dessert. Smooth, luscious peanut butter mousse, with just the right amount of salt, sits nestled in an Oreo-cookie crust. So perfect is this pairing that I usually end up scraping the whipped cream off my half, which C happily commandeers for his half of the dessert.
Speaking of C, he'd probably disown me if I didn't mention Levende's Mac 'n Cheese side dish, which he has been known to order at the bar for dinner if I'm on the road. Loaded with cheesy goodness, applewood smoked bacon and a crumb crust, it's a pretty damn satisfying version of this comfort food.
Now, in the interest of transparency, I'm going to mention that we're friends with two of the managing partners at Levende. But aside from a "Friends & Family" dinner where we guinea pigged ourselves out to them, we really do pay our own way. We've pretty much been there once a week (it's stumbling... 'scuse me, walking distance from us) for a cocktail and a bite at the bar or communal table.
827 Washington Street
Open for Lunch and Dinner M-F, Boogie Brunch & Dinner Saturday