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December 6-13, 2006

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Davenport Roadhouse

Photograph by Carlie Statsky
Landmark makeover: A year in the making, the reinvented Davenport Roadhouse is ready for business.

Roadhouse Revelry

Newly re-created Davenport restaurant reneges on some menu promises, but still pleases the palate

By Selene Latigo

I really do enjoy the consistency of family, friends and social gatherings that the holiday season brings, and I'm not just saying that to mask the stressful, consumeristic craze that infects the best of us. This year's Thanksgiving was ideal, shining with real appreciation and less excessive numbing than in years past. However, no matter how much we love the crowds of close ones around us, it is always a relief to exit back into a more solitary normalcy. Dave and I were more than ready for some alone time, and a quiet dinner for two at the new Davenport Roadhouse was exactly fitting.

I knew it was high time to visit this re-created landmark at the Cash Store judging by the buzz around town and praiseful whisperings. It's always heartwarming to see a new restaurant open with commendable awareness to local, seasonal leanings, and I'm happy to report that the Roadhouse is not making deceptive or empty claims. Thankfully, the Roadhouse feels genuine in every way, from the menu, citing a small, local wine list, to the open and contemporary yet earthy décor. An emphasis on in-house products and the very reasonable prices considering the quality of ingredients contribute to my growing feeling of joy that, as a West Side resident, I can jaunt up there for breakfast, lunch or dinner in 10 minutes flat.

This rainy Sunday night found the wide, converted warehouse space warm from the fireplace, and crowded. After the dark and empty drive up Highway 1, the live music greeting customers added to the sense of discovery. We began with some wine: Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard 2001 Merlot ($6) for Dave to pair with his meat-centric meal to come, and the Ridge Three Valleys 2002 Zinfandel ($9) for me, a special by-the-glass pour from this usual bottle-only selection, yet noticeably smaller in volume than Dave's glass.

We chose to start with a trio of beet salad ($6) with rich portobello and roasted beet slices and a balanced vinaigrette that was heavily mixed with baby greens. The delicate Harley Farms goat cheese that "finished" this salad actually appeared spread onto an oversize and crisp crostini. That wasn't on the menu, and although it was enjoyable, perhaps it would have been better suited crumbled on the greens for a more direct effect.

Our Margherita Pizzette ($8) was a very simple creation of pungent basil, fresh mozzarella and Molino Creek tomatoes topping a tender, crisp, yet chewy thin crust, kissed by wood-oven heat. I was anxious to sample more of their wood-oven-baked goods, and we finally received a plate of house French bread and sweet butter--just in time to soak up the salad remnants. It was crusty, fragrant and soft, with a good salt level. It made me want to try the ciabbatta and country loaf soon, not to mention the array of house-baked breakfast sweets as well.

My entree choice was the grilled ono ($15), long-line caught and served with sticky, sesame-hinted jasmine rice, lightly steamed bok choy and a very subtle, creamy mango beurre blanc. The fish was cooked perfectly, the moist interior countered well by the savory, herb-flecked grilled exterior. I did not taste the blood orange oil mentioned in the description and would have enjoyed the citrus zing.

Dave ordered the steak frites ($14), a quality cut of hanger steak aptly cooked medium rare in the wood oven and drizzled with a thick, whole grain mustard sauce. Again, the menu stated a side of rainbow chard with hazelnuts, but what appeared was simply prepared beet greens without the nuts. This seasonal accompaniment was welcome just the same, adding a healthy element balancing the pile of excellent, thin-cut and supercrisp garlic fries, which are competing for a spot on my local Top 3.

Regardless of pie overdosing from Thanksgiving, we chose to end our date with a slice of Italian almond cake ($4.75), dense with nuts and a light touch of rum, yet a bit too cold with a slight refrigerator flavor. The dessert list provides a comprehensive selection for any hankering (chocolate pot de cr╦me is mine) and will be revisited by us soon. In fact, I plan on dragging the next Friday night dinner club across town and up the coast so that they can experience this new addition to our community favorites for themselves.

Davenport Roadhouse

Address: 1 Davenport Blvd., Davenport

Phone: 831.426.4122

Hours: 8am-9pm Tue-Sun

Price Range: $4-$15.

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