Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Camino a go go

By awoodall
Friday, May 30th, 2008 at 6:10 pm in Night Owl, Oakland nightlife.

I was supposed to meet up with a pal last night at the new trend-o-meter spot of the month, Camino, a self-consciously posh restaurant that just opened May 19 on upper Grand Avenue, next door to La Taza de Cafe. I’m sure a lot of people are going to go gaga over Camino, but count me out of that crew. For one, the bar is standing only unless you can land a table near the window, which takes some persistence. The aging bleached blonde with skin-tight jeans and a black halter to show off her full back tattoo (I think men get cars and women get tattoos for their midlife crises) finally got one. I went for an out of the way table, like sitting in the blind spot at a baseball game.
The restaurant area — like a big, drab mess hall — is packed so the chances of getting a seat along one of the room length tables at which person after person is seated next to each other is next to zero at peak hour. You’ll get your turn but have to wait for the privilege.
The sardine and egg toast appetizer that I ordered while my boyfriend and I waited for my guest was a slice of charred at the edges batard with a few scraggly sardines and half a shriveled up egg with some greens thrown in the middle of the sad sight. OH please. Even I can do a better job at an appetizer. But I had heard the food was great so maybe they just don’t care about us foragers. I think it’s a place people hungry for refined but not stuffy restaurants will like. Refined it is. Comfortable it is not. And before you start to argue, how comfortable is standing for half and hour at the bar when you just want to nibble and sip something tasty after a long day? But, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad for it in Oakland. Choice is good. Too bad that’s not on the cocktail menu, which is restricted to about six drinks that belong to the mixologist school of alcohol (for ex: martinis are made with gin and vermouth but come with a splash of orange bitters).
At least the service was sweet. Anyway, turns out I had gotten the nights mixed up so we escaped to La Taza de Cafe next door. It felt like a haven after Camino.  Even the bar had stools we could sit on while we sipped our Cuban cocktails. Gracias.

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