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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Boot and Shoe Service Cafe

It is probably no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love coffee, I treat it just like many who love wine or beer, I love the complexity and variety, of how the hand of man (or woman if it is one of my favorite roasters) can affect the work of nature and how terroir changes a sibple seed. In San Francisco, there is an oft-rotating 'best coffee ever!' buzz surrounding whatever latest coffee roaster or coffee house is the current darling of the crowd. Lately, Sightglass coffee keeps coming up in conversation of the coffee cogniscenti. So, it was both surprsing and good news when I heard that Boot and Shoe Service in Oakland, Ca. was serving Sightglass coffee as a part of new morning service. They have turned a narrow and very rustic space into their coffee bar.
They are using a small La Marzocco espresso machine which seems perfectly sized for the location. Of late, it really seems all of the coffee I enjoy is made on some version of a La Marzocco, including my ususal coffee from Zocalo in San Leandro.

They do have a little competition, being within easy distance from powerhouse chains Peet's and Starbucks, which I suspect will not be a problem for them. In part, it has to do with the coffee, the espresso, my preferred method for getting to know a coffee shop, lacked for nothing. It had a wonderfuil texture, with a touch of sweetness and a smooth overall mouthfeel. The flavore were berry and fruit forward with a tough of mocha richness on the backside, lingering coffee flavor with no bitterness. The coffee and crema held beautifully with the flavor holding even as the coffee cooled. Look at tha...hey, where did it go?
However, as good as the coffee was, the food really shows it's heritage of being a part of a restaurant. For those not in the know, Boot and Shoe is the second restaurant opened by Charlie Hollowell of Pizzaiolo. The baked goods are handled in-house or at Pizzaiolo and the food is prepared in the kitchen.
The shop also offers house made granola and house made baked treats, we did not try these, as we were inclinded to more substantial fare. But, it is easy to see that they have all the standards people look for in a coffee shop as well as a few other options less often seen. The granola is very interesting looking with a unique color and loose texture.
We had a delicious pork belly sandwich which offered a unctuous and tender pork belly, which must have been slow cooked and a wonderful sauce that balanced the heft of the prok belly fat. The sandwich was certainly a worthy representative and will cause me to come back here again.
The real treat was the crispy friend sweet polenta with honey, this was a wonderful balance of crispy, creamy and sweet which could, and probably should, be served as a dessert. This dish represented one of those hallmarks of a great kitchen, simple ingredients in a simple presentation that tastes incredible.
Anytime I run across food like this, it really makes me want to come back and try out the other items on the menu. Boot and Shoe Service got me in with excellent coffee, but, I will be back for the food coming out of the kitchen.