Occupation: Advertising Photographer
Favorite Restaurant: Old Skool Café
Reviewed Old Skool Café: Saturday, December 7, 2013
Old Skool Café is a youth run supper club in the Bay View-Hunters Point part of San Francisco. Teresa Goines is the founder who was a former corrections officer out to help young, at-risk adults make positive changes in their lives and in some cases save lives.
The servers are attentive without hovering, friendly and quick to be of help with any needs or questions. Chef Kevin has definitely mastered the art of bringing together foods from around the world that complement each other and allow the customer to explore the blending of tastes available from the menu.
My dinner started with a Kale Salad and the Brussels Sprouts topped with Parmigiano cheese. This super food tasted super, since kale can have a bit of a strong taste. The honey Dijon dressing was a great choice to bring the flavors together for this out-of-the-ordinary salad. I had Daniel’s Gumbo for the main dish, which has a nice touch of spicy from the Andouille sausage. The Gumbo also has Dungeness crab that is tender with chicken and shrimp— which was just as tender— over a bed of white rice for a taste of New Orleans in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I added a side dish of West African Peanut Butter Stew on a bed of white rice with chicken topped with garlic chips. The stew is an explosion of texture, subtle spiciness and international flavors that you just don’t find too often. Finally, I topped off the evening with a Lavender Cheesecake for dessert, which had fresh strawberries, mint garnish and a balsamic sauce. I like cheesecake, but wow! This dessert is one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had that I can remember.
My drink for the evening was a great-tasting white wine from France called Vichon Chardonnay- 2010. The chardonnay had a subtle oak flavor, slightly dry and light in body. Very tasty.
Occupation: Office Manager
Location: San Lorenzo
Favorite Restaurant: Federicos Tapas & Wine Bar
Reviewed Old Skool Café: Thursday, December 12, 2013
This was a true hidden gem; a bit hard to find, but worth the trouble. Wait staff was very attentive. We were seated promptly in a very comfortable cozy booth. We listened to a wonderful volunteer jazz quartet while we reviewed the menu. The look and feel of the restaurant was that of the renaissance era/mystique vibe. Our surroundings were very clean, comfortable and intimate. Music was enjoyable but not overly loud. During a brief intermission from the music, Carlos, a youth employee gave a heartfelt testimony regarding his background and employment at the Old Skool Café; very motivational and uplifting. This all tied in with the entertainment value in lieu of the fact that the majority of the staff were troubled teens now productive employees.
We were privileged to be our waiter’s very first table. Although unfamiliar with the menu, he was very patient, attentive and eager to help with our questions and menu selections. We arrived with hearty appetites to try a variety of entrées. Our dining experience began with savory sweet potato biscuit with honey butter (yum-yum) and continued with several side dishes ranging from Daniel’s Gumbo to Crispy Calamari. The Gumbo, while not the largest portion, was packed with a variety of items: Andouille sausage (very spicy), crab, shrimp, and served over white rice. We continued our meal with three AMAZING “headliners": Bayview Baby Back Ribs, Blackened Catfish and Pan Seared Shrimp n’ Smoky Cheese Grits. The ribs were tender juicy and moderately seasoned. There was however a bit too much BBQ sauce for my standards, but nothing a good scraping off with the butter knife couldn’t fix. My husband enjoyed the Grits so much so that he asked the chief about sharing his home recipe. The catfish was cooked to perfection. Our meal concluded with a personal visit from Chief Kevin, who provided us with the owner’s vision along with the history behind the mentoring program to help the youth in the local community. This is by far one of my TOP picks of the year, definitely a bang for your buck!!!
Location: San Mateo
Favorite Restaurant: Perbacco
Reviewed Old Skool Café: Friday, December 6, 2013
Old Skool Café is an absolutely perfect neighborhood gem on two important accounts. First, the food, the kitschy but soulful ambiance and the sincere service approach makes this a great place to eat. Secondly, and just as important, the restaurant is a youth-led project that supports job training for disadvantaged youth as part of an overall violence prevention program. Old Skool Café, irrespective of its noble mission, is a perfect way to spend an evening in a deliciously presented 1940’s supper club.
We started with an order of the Old Skool Ceviche, which was presented with diced tilapia, red onion, bell peppers and jalapenos, topped with avocado and cilantro. Classic preparation served with the right balance of flavors and consistency. The Drummettes (five to our order) were a bit over fried but the chicken meat was very tender and the flavors on the batter were just spot on. The show stopper of the evening for our table was Abu’s West African Peanut Butter Stew. Wow. I already sported a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup fetish on my palate, so to enjoy the peanut butter flavor in an entrée was totally unexpected, exciting and perfectly delicious. The stew was served with moist chicken, lots of herbs, coconut milk and of course, creamy peanut butter. My dinner partner had the Shrimp N Smoky Cheese Grits, which was wonderfully prepared. The shrimp was succulent and the Spanish chorizo and scallions really made the flavors dance in the mouth. I cannot remember the last time I have ever tried grits but if this is what the fuss is about, I am hooked.
The young service team working the floor Friday night was a bit inexperienced and perhaps undertrained, but they are focused and passionate about delivering a memorable experience to guests. Knowing the background of Old Skool Café in terms of being a training crucible for young people wanting to learn a trade, all the little stuff is forgiven. Some may be intimidated about venturing to the Bayview-Hunters Point part of town, but cast your paradigms aside with the confidence that the neighborhood is quite welcoming, the mission of Old Skool is noble and they deliver a unique dining experience that has earned the restaurant a legion of raving fans.