Sharing Is Caring
Tapas you won't need to hog
There are small plates designed like miniature hors d'oeuvres: pretty to look at and impossible to share.
Not at Duende, Paul Canales' month-old restaurant, where tapas such as the wonderful piquillo peppers stuffed with cumin-spiced lamb and currants ($12.50) can easily be split (find the recipe here). The cabbage salad ($11.50), whose frilly shreds hide salty shocks of green olives and Mahón cheese, is generous enough that you'll want to offer bites to your neighbors.
With Duende, Canales, who spent more than a decade cooking soigné Italian cuisine at Oliveto, decided to reinvent himself as thoroughly as he did his Uptown Oakland space: He's now devoted to Spanish food; the restaurant is now bare-walled and ruggedly stylish.
It's a place where you can stand at the bodega and drink glasses of nutty González Byass Palo Cortado ($9) with a few pintxos (swordfish escabeche, spreadable chorizo) before a show at The Fox.
Or make an evening of the fideua ($38 for two), toasted vermicelli noodles cooked with saffron, olives and duck confit; the edges emerge from the oven appealingly crunchy, the pasta underneath ruddy and aromatic. Cooked to order, the fideua doesn't come in single portions.
In short, you'll have to share.
Duende, 468 19th St. (at Broadway), Oakland; 510-893-0174 or duendeoakland.com
Our San Francisco editor, Jonathan Kauffman, dined unannounced at Duende on February 7. We were brought immediately to our table and waited on just as promptly; dinner for two cost $88, not including drinks and tip.