I live in a city with a lot of very good restaurants, but my own neighborhood really doesn’t have any good places to eat. So, I was happy to hear about ALTAeats, a new restaurant within walking distance to my house, with a highly regarded chef. In fact, there was quite a buzz on our neighborhood Yahoo group even before the place opened.
I heard about ALTAeats before I even saw it, and once I learned where it was located I wasn’t even sure I found the right place. It is small and quite anonymous, so anonymous there isn’t even a sign out front. At first I thought he place was so new, the signage must be in the works. However, now that it has been open for about 8 months, I know that there is no intention for signage. It seems the owner wants the restaurant to survive on word of mouth and on-line marketing. It’s working.
I purchased a Living Social deal several months ago, and tried to redeem immediately it but the place was booked. Recently I decided to try again and was able to make a reservation for me and my husband Juan and another couple. Our neighborhood friends were glad to join us and commented that they didn’t even know the restaurant existed. I told them to bring a bottle of wine since ALTAeats did not have a liquor license or a corkage fee. Between us, we brought along three bottles.
It was so hot that evening that we opted to drive instead of walk to the restaurant. When we pulled up in front of the black awning we all hesitated. Was it even open? There weren’t any operating hours posted on the darkly tinted windows. We opened the door and were greeted with a very minimalist, modern and comfortable atmosphere. There were several booths and tables along the walls and a big communal table in the middle of the room. The smells of the open kitchen to the rear of the restaurant welcomed us in, even though the poor functioning air conditioning made the temperature inside nearly as stifling as outside. We felt like we had just been let in on a well-kept secret.
We were promptly seated and greeted by a very friendly and knowledgeable server. She brought us complimentary gazpacho in shot glasses and a plate full of warm bread. The Living Social deal I’d purchased allowed us to share two small plates, a shared entrée and a shared dessert for $36.00. Our friends decided to order their own small plate and each of us ordered our own entrees.
The shared plate my friends ordered was a beautifully presented arugula salad with grilled peaches and pork belly. It sounded weird but it was delicious. At least I think it was delicious. “Shared plates” imply that they are meant to be shared, right? I really only tasted their salad since my friends need to work on their sharing technique. We also ordered a shared plate of mussels which I decided were so good I kept them to myself. Maybe I need to practice my technique as well?
I’m glad the entrees weren’t meant to be shared, because I didn’t intend to let anyone near my salmon. I think we all felt the same way about our entrees. They were all so good none of us offered each other more than a taste.
We didn’t think we’d want dessert but since it was included in my Living Social deal how could we refuse? If it wasn’t for the uncomfortable temperature inside the restaurant we might have lingered over dessert. Instead we devoured it and decided to go back to my house and finish off the evening with a nightcap.
I’m so glad we stumbled upon this secret hiding place of a restaurant. When the temperature drops I will definitely be back. And I won’t be sharing my food.