A Truly Elegant Dining Experience in Rockridge/Oakland
The Dining Detectives are once again on the trail searching for the best restaurants in the Bay Area to share with our loyal readers. This month our search was once again rewarded with a worthy dining experience at a small yet elegant French inspired restaurant in the East Bay-Citron. We left Petaluma and before we knew it we arrived on College Avenue in the Rockridge section of Oakland. We had been to this trendy street before to shop for gourmet food and wine at Market Hall, just adjacent to BART. There are also many small clothing and specialty shops that you may want to visit when in the neighborhood.
Citron has been serving award-winning food here for seven years, which is a compliment to Michael Smith (Owner) and Chris Rossi (Chef/Owner). We are always impressed by attention to detail and we were not disappointed. White table cloths, well dressed servers, and a friendly smile made the correct first impression that gave us the hint of what was to come. We liked the muted lighting-small spotlights and the use of elegant velvet drapes, which flowed to divide the rooms. These smart touches allow all the diners to enjoy a quiet intimate feeling, inviting good conversation. We get tired of places that are so loud that you have to almost yell to be heard over the din. That is not the case at Citron. Also, the décor was a fine addition to the experience. The Art Glass wall sconces and the muted black and white photos made us smile as we perused the room between courses.
We were led to our table and Matthew, our waiter, was immediately there to welcome us. He told us about the specials, offered the wine list and menus and then went off and was soon back with a large bottle of San Pelligrino Sparkling Mineral Water- a nice touch to start.
We were pleased to see that the menu was very select. Citron changes their menu every two to three weeks to reflect the seasonal fresh ingredients that are available. Citron once again shows attention to detail by offering a focused selection of soups, appetizers, salads and entrees that are complimentary in taste and presentation.
The wine list is substantial. We were told that the wine list just keeps growing to satisfy the desires of the discerning palates of the clientele. We started by ordering a few wines by the glass and were ready to taste some of the finest food that The Bay Area has to offer.
This special appetizer was the perfect way to start our dining experience. Toasted Almonds and a Sliced Apple drizzled with honey complimented the Cheese. They included;
Cypress Grove- Mt. McKinley Chevre
Brillat Savarin- Triple Cream- mild, our favorite
Ovelheiro Serra - Portuguese Sheeps Milk
Terrine of Smoked Salmon-
With crème fraiche butter, sauce ravigote and rye toast.
Although we didnt try this, we must on a return visit. We watched as it was served to an adjacent table and noticed the pleasure on their faces.
Day Boat Scallop Soup-
Garlic chives, lemon and basmati rice
A must! The scallops were great! The scallops and the soup were outstanding.
Mixed Greens and Herbs-
With shaved Charentais melon.
Lovely, light and fresh-The sweetest melon we had eaten in a long time and once again a tribute to excellent shopping by Citron.
Hearts of Romaine-
With candied walnuts and Roquefort dressing. Large Lettuce leaves covered with walnuts and a fabulous dressing. A true salad lovers delight- "To die for" was the quote by our fellow diner.
La Salade Composee
Asparagus, White Asparagus, Favas, baby carrots, baby leeks, and hearts of palm with sauce verte.
This was especially exotic and visually well balanced. The lovely selection of vegetables were each cooked individually and beautifully presented on the plate. The Favas were unique and it is rare to see white asparagus. This was truly a superb and wonderful salad experience!
Swordfish with Almond Sauce-
Over an artichoke ragout, skordalia sauce and red onion rings. This was moist, flaky and thick, crusted on the outside and fresher than weve had at any fresh fish restaurant. EXCELLENT.
Spring Lamb Mixed Grill-
With fresh sausage, loin chop and lamb leg. New potatoes and tarragon jus. A perfect piece of lamb with a great sauce!
Cherry Smoked Game Hen-
On a toasted bread salad, bitter greens and a medjool date sauce. This hen was cut up and presented over the salad with a tangy sauce. The sauce and the texture of the salad brought out the rich smoky flavor of the Game hen. This was a big hit!
Farm Raised Venison Tenderloin-
Potato Puree, baby squash, peppercorn brandy sauce. This was cooked to perfection - no over powering taste here. Great sauce too. Joes personal favorite, this evening.
Black and White Crème Brulee
The drizzled chocolate and vanilla sauces made this visually pleasing. The taste was extraordinary. We loved it.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Tart
Orange Vanilla SauceThe natural fruit flavors came through and it was not too tart as some Rhubarb desserts tend to be.
Great presentation-each served on a petite cookie- Just like eating fresh fruit! The flavors exploded in your palate.
The wine list is always evolving. Citron offers moderately priced California and French wines, as well as to those for fit for a king or queen. We were pleased to see wines by the glass both in standard Full glass and Tasting Pour sizes. One can also enjoy sampling similar wines, which we decided to do. We started off with a trio from the Tasting Menu. This is a nice way to enjoy the subtle differences in wines
The California Bordeaux Style Blends included:
Havens "Bourriquot" Napa Valley 1996-
Light and young.
White Rock Claret Napa Valley 1995-
More complex, yet mellow and smooth.
Gary Ferrell, Encounter, Sonoma 1996-
Bold, deep color, strong yet delicate-We had met Gary a few years ago and were pleased to see his wine on the list.
We also enjoyed some other wines by the glass. They included;
Morgan Chardonnay, Monterey County 1998-
Monterey County has come a long way in producing excellent wines as we realized with this selection. Buttery and full bodied- Had we not known we would have thought it was from Sonoma or Napa. We had a second glass that paired perfectly with the Swordfish.
St Francis Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County 1997- This big red paired perfectly with the Venison.
Whitehorn Carneros Pinot Noir 1997-This peppery wine went delightfully well with the Spring Lamb.
Michael Smith and Chris Rossi have created a total dining experience at Citron that is second to none. Attention to detail from the freshness of the food to the well thought out wine list to the elegant décor and sophisticated service all combined for a fantastic evening!
The restaurant has recently expanded adding a new room with about 10 tables and will open their back deck in May for outdoor dining. One can also sit and eat at the bar, which is a comfortable place, and perfect for lone diners.
Elegant Dining, Exquisite Cuisine, Great Wine List, Attention to Detail, A Sophisticated Experience. Well be back to Citron soon!