I live in a converted warehouse in Oakland. It's mostly residential and live/work, but there are a couple of commercial units on the first floor. One has been the Cuckoo's Nest restaurant since I moved in, but it closed last year. About six months ago, new owners started renovating the space in preparation for launching a new restaurant.
A couple of weeks ago, Mono opened for lunch. I've had a couple of delicious sandwiches from there-- an excellent grilled cheese with roasted tomato, and perhaps the best roast beef sandwich I've ever had. They plan to open for dinner in early April. Last night they sent mail to the residents of the building letting us know that they were secretly opening for dinner tonight, mostly so that the neighbors could check them out. I invited P to come up for dinner.
When we arrived, the place was packed! Every seat at the bar was taken, and there was one table available. The hostess politely let us know that the kitchen was running quite behind this evening, but we were OK with that-- every opening comes with a few rough edges. I knew at least half of the people there, which made for a lovely evening of mingling. We even shared food across tables.
I can't do the menu justice, but everything ranged from good to excellent. Appetizers were asparagus with prosciutto, shaved parmesan, and a cooked egg (surprising, but it worked), and roasted artichoke with pesto aioli. Entrees were short ribs and an excellent lemon risotto with asparagus and grilled shrimp. For dessert we enjoyed a panna cotta with a rhubarb topping, and some decadent chocolate brownie parfait thing. I'd be happy if you put any of it down in front of me again, but the risotto was my favorite of the evening.
Unfortunately they ran out of a couple of things we wanted-- dayboat scallops with a tangerine sauce, and a spicy gingerbread that was so dark it looked like chocolate cake. Next time!
The owners, Todd and Eloisa, have done a fantastic job with the space and the menu. If you're near Oakland, I highly recommend checking them out after they officially open. I expect to be there on a regular basis.
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