Around the Bay: Upscale Indian in San Mateo & Farm-to-Table in Oakland

All Spice’s enchanting cottage

Intriguing bites and openings in other parts of the Bay Area? All Spice is a new, upscale Indian restaurant in San Mateo. Though still working out kinks with some dishes not yet fully realized, the space is romantic and service engaging in a cottage I adored in its former iteration.

Oakland’s Camino is a space I love for different reasons: rustic, glowing, like a hall of an old English home with modern-day spirit. Returning after a year’s absence yielded an imperfect meal with sometimes small portions of dishes I’ve tasted better versions of elsewhere. Still, the overall package holds merit, particularly the drinks.

San Mateo

All Spice’s front dining room

ALL SPICE – The magic of the enchanted cottage housing All Spice, enhanced by delightful husband-wife owners,  Sachin Chopra and Shoshana Wolff, is truly the highlight of this Indian gem. Promise radiates in almost every aspect, while service is professionally warm. I anticipate seeing how they evolve.

Without a liquor license yet, I partook of unusual drink offerings like sweet tea masala-infused water ($2), grapefruit-rosemary punch ($5), and, my favorite, a light but creamy passion fruit mint lassi ($2.50).

Farro Chaat

A starter of lavender cumin scallops ($12), may not have been mind-blowing but the trio of scallops were generous in size, while bacon bits over black cardamom pureed potato are inspired accents. Farro Chaat ($8) is aesthetic, shaped in a circle of wheat over purple Peruvian potatoes and cauliflower with chaat masala vinaigrette. Despite it’s beauty, it was served cold, tasting just a little bland.

Bacon-wrapped rack of lamb ($23) in sundried tomato red chile sauce with mushroom marmalade was a solid, savory dish. Poached black cod ($23) was a little salty but had the right texture while rutabaga puree and spiced southern greens underneath were downright addictive.

Chili Mango Bread Pudding

Chili mango bread pudding ($7) with ginger creme anglaise disappointed without a hint of the chili I was hoping for and dried mango bits rather than fresh, warm mango. Presentation stole the show with blackberries dotting the surface. A few tweaks and it could be memorable.

Ice cream trio

Faring better was a trio of house-made ice creams ($6). A bed of nuts and dried fruits under the scoops were a bit of a taste and texture distraction from the flavors of coconut curry, lemon thyme, chocolate anise, but overall it’s a winning finish, particularly the anise kick of the dark chocolate.


CAMINO – The main stand-outs at my last visit to Camino were the small but well-prepared drinks. A simple Cocchi Americano on the rocks with a twist of orange ($7) is fine way to get the appetite flowing – a sweetly bitter aperitif. I can’t help but love a Camino Negroni ($9), made with with Gran Classico instead of Campari. This has been done all over SF for awhile, yet remains a lush version of a Negroni.

Pig’s head & trotters at Camino

Mezcal works twice: light and fluffy with egg white, lemon, honey and rosemary in Mezcal Drink ($10); smoky and slate-like in the Oaxacan Old-Fashioned ($10 – reposado, mezcal, agave, Angostura bitters). It all flows with dishes like grilled rabbit and pig’s head with pig trotter fritters,  sauerkraut and fresh horseradish ($11), the best dish of the night.