The good thing about living in LA and having to fly into the Oakland airport on a regular basis is that Suni can pick me up and whisk me away to a nearby hotspot that would normally be a bit far for dinner. We've tried several places in Oakland, Berkeley, and other surrounding areas, and most recently stumbled upon Levende East in downtown Oakland. This "wine and small-plates" restaurant was dark, sexy, and exactly what I needed to unwind from a long week of work.
roquefort stuffed dates/fried spanish chorizo
Stuffed dates being one of our newest discoveries, we were anxious to try Levende's version. The chorizo added a nice salty and spicy kick to the sweet date and intense Roquefort. It was interesting that the chorizo was served alongside the dates and not stuffed in them, but this way we were able to taste all the components separately, and then see how they blended together perfectly.
indian spiced mini lamb burgers
onion chutney/cumin yogurt sauce/pickled cukes
These little lamb sliders called out to us, even though I'm not a huge fan of lamb. But I must admit, they were very tasty, and the wonderful Indian spices made me temporarily forget that I was eating a cute baby sheep.
guava BBQ glazed babyback ribs
mashed japanese sweet potatoes/rocolla/chalula & honey vinaigrette
These just sounded so good. The guava BBQ sauce was sweet and rich, which is why the peppery taste of the rocolla was essential to the dish. We devored them so quickly that we forgot to ask for more sauce on the side.
mac & cheese
applewood smoked bacon/sage
How could we NOT have the mac and cheese?
chocolate peanut butter pie
oreo cookie crust/caramel whipped cream
I begged, pleaded, and Suni finally gave in and let me order the chocolate peanut butter pie. I'm hoping that one day he develops a similar love for peanut butter (or even just a tolerance for it), but it wasn't at this dinner. He took one bite and proclaimed it too peanut-buttery. Of course, not all was lost as that just meant more for me.