Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

VanKleevage, absinthe & corn dogs like heaven and hell

By awoodall
Wednesday, August 6th, 2008 at 4:58 pm in Oakland nightlife, Uptown.

I stopped in at Cafe Van Kleef the other night on my search for Oakland’s signature cocktail (that’s a story for Friday’s Night Owl) and learned that the bar is now serving food and absinthe. Peter Van Kleef jumped on the “green fairy” bandwagon with La Tourment, a French Absinthe that he said can be drunk straight.
He’s also serving bar food and showed off his convection oven that looks like a safe but that can turn out a pizza with a Sicilian-style crust in minutes. So he claimed. I never know if the rascal is messing with me or not because he’s always got a mischievous look on his face and a tall tale on the tip of his tongue. He looked especially roguish Monday night with his baseball cap worn backwards and a chunky gold chain dangling from his wrist. Anyway, he said the bar is dishing up shrimp and bread, meatballs “like your mother makes” (I hope not MY mother), baked tilapia fish and corn dogs served with mustard and horseradish mustard “so it’s like heaven and hell.”
He removes the stick and cuts the corn dogs up in thirds served with a little paper fan or umbrella. Peter said he also installed a walk-in cooler so he can have enough beer ro supply giant keg taps. His beer prices are still the same although the Chinese, he continued, have cornered the world market on hops, jacking up the price of beer by 50 percent. “I believe students deserve a break,” he added as explanation for his steady prices — $4.
Van Kleef’s just wrapped up a breast cancer awareness event for which a drink called the VanKleevage was concocted. (Three rums with a splash of half-and-half and grenadine syrup. Shake in a cocktail shaker until your hand freezes and the drink looks like breast milk.) What do you expect from the home of the Catholic-Protestant cocktail?

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