Alameda a la carte: Wine and Waffles
Alameda a la carte: Wine and Waffles
Alameda's brand-new Wine and Waffles is a popular spot.
Nearly 10 months since the initial announcement heralding a new, upscale wine and tapas place on Park Street, Wine and Waffles is open for business - and business is booming. On a Saturday evening earlier this month, a friend and I stopped by to check it out. We were lucky to get a seat.
The brainchild of Ken and Vickie Monize (Vickie owns Ole's Waffle Shop next door), Wine and Waffles won me over the minute I walked through the door. If location, location, location is what kicks real estate up a notch, the same can be said about ambiance, ambiance, ambiance for watering holes. This place is so welcoming, cozy, and relaxing, it makes me wonder how they get anybody to leave.
We were greeted and seated promptly. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available. The bar area is nicely integrated with the rest of the room, which has a living room-like vibe with couches, a fireplace, and a grand piano where live music is sometimes presented. The young man who waited on us was friendly, polished, and very knowledgeable.
Wine and Waffles has over 200 different wines, mostly from California, featuring niche wines that are not widely available, like those from Alameda's R&B Cellars. The Monizes strive to provide an experience where every wine is a winner. Judging by my visit and multiple comments on Yelp, they're doing a good job.
The tapas menu is limited but interesting. I had the beet and apple salad which was crunchy, delicious, and super fresh. My friend and I also shared the Wine and Dine board, laden with cheese, sliced meats, crackers, fruit and nuts. The $17 price tag may seem like a lot, but the quality, quantity, and presentation were worth it.
The food here is intended to be more of a snack, but my friend and I found the shared board amply filling. There is also a California wine and cheese flight that includes three wines and cheese served on a board shaped like the state. Again, this is not your typical cheese board. You get a lot of top quality food, nicely presented.
Other tasty treats include chicken and waffle sliders, macaroni and cheese, and desserts.
Wine and Waffles was definitely worth the wait. I may have to make this my new office. (I wonder if they have wi-fi?)
Wine and Waffles, 1505 Park Street, 523-2301. Open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Recipe: Manka's Babies with Strawberry Sauce
The trouble with pancakes, from a cook's point of view, is the time it takes to make enough for everybody. In order to present family or guests with a stack for breakfast, the cook has to either wake up early, make the pancakes and keep them warm until the rest of the gang gets up, or man the stove, continuing to produce pancakes while everyone else is munching away. By the time the cook gets to eat, everyone else has left the table. This was what I had to contend with, until I discovered this spectacular substitute in one of James Beard's cookbooks: Manka's Babies.
The recipe comes from the now defunct Seattle restaurant called Manka. The “babies” refers to individual slices of the finished product, spread with filling and served rolled. (I usually just cut the whole into wedges and serve with syrup and whipped cream, but the rolling probably makes them look prettier.)
Pancake: 1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
Sauce: 2 cups frozen strawberries, thawed
½ cup granulated sugar
Squeeze of lemon
Whipped cream (if desired)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter in a 9 to 10-inch skillet in the oven.
Put the eggs, milk, and flour in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Remove the gratin pan from the oven and pour in the batter.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until puffed and nicely browned.
While the pancake is baking, crush the strawberries in a saucepan with a potato masher.
Mix in the sugar and lemon juice.
Bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Skim foam if desired.
Serve hot over pancake wedges. Top with whipped cream.
NOTE: When you remove this from the oven, it will be puffed up like a souffle. Your guests will be impressed! Be careful of the hot butter in the bottom of the pan.
New and Notable
Tetsu Ramen, 1245 Park Street, 865-1505
A traditional-style ramen noodle shop, Tetsu serves up bowls of ramen noodles and broth in several varieties along with appetizers like chicken karaage and gyoza. Those used to ramen that comes shrink-wrapped are in for a surprise. If a soft-boiled egg, tinted brown with soy sauce in your dish freaks you out, this might not be the place for you! Be prepared to pay for tea. Unlike many Asian restaurants, it is not included.
Bambu Desserts and Drinks, 1409 Park Street, 522-2879
Asian-inspired chain outfit featuring bubble tea and Vietnamese che desserts.
R&B Cellars, 1835 San Jose Avenue, 749-8477
R&B Cellars has announced that they are moving their production facility to Point Richmond this summer. Owners Kevin and Barbara Brown still have plans to keep a tasting room in Alameda. Until they find the perfect space, they are conducting tastings by appointment on weekends in their beautiful Victorian home here in town. Call 749-8477 to make an appointment.