Any Taxi Brousse updates?
- rworange Jul 13, 2006 07:37 PM
The East Bay Express reviewed it this week with a one-week stand in as a food reviewer to fill the gap between Johathan Kauffman who left for the Seattle Weekly and his replacement, who IMO, is one of the worst food critics I have ever read.
Here's the review
IMO it was a little early for a professional review of Taxi Brousse. Acutally the stand-in did a nice job, describing the ginger drink he wrote ...
"Most intriguing, however, was the ginger, which went down like a refreshing lemonade that returned to nip at our throat several seconds later"
It sounds like this place is dying for lack of business. Have any hounds been there recently? Really give it a try. These people are not being smart about promoting their place.
They discontinued lunch for lack of business ... BUT .. they were open and closed on such an irregular basis that even I gave up on planning a lunch there.
From my visits, it is worth the effort of stopping by. Here's some previous Chowhound reports. I don't feel like I can report about the place anymore. From my understanding they saw my Chowhound report and ... since I was probably the only person in there the first week, they probably know it was me. I don't write about places that know I post on Chowhound. Just a personal thing ... I eat there again, I just don't post.
Anyway here's some previous Chowhound reports. Hope there will be more.
re: Robert Lauriston
Drinks or no drinks, they are not doing a thing to let people know they are open. While the EBE lets people know the place exists, it hardly did anything to draw people there.
I've driven by nights, knew they were open, but it still looked like they were closed. Again, it is too bad because it is something different, has tasty food and could really be a pleasant place on a hot night having drinks and food on that little patio. I hope they do something to make people aware it is there.
I went last weekend. It was open and the food and hospitality were great. Had a nine-year-old with us (not my idea) and they made yucca fries for her-not on the menu. But we didn't let her get many.
Brought the leftovers home for my husband, who loved them. (Not the yucca fries. Cold fried yucca=cardboard.)
Just back from dessert at Bistro Liason...
I liked everything, especially the chicken yasse (which has a mustard based sauce) and the chicken mafe, with a peanut-based but not peanutty flavor. (Every main dish comes with couscous or rice and a titch bit of salad greens.) We had both over chicken because of my friend's preference. And the yucca fries. They should give up and just put them on the menu.
Less successful but still flavorful was the shrimp tchou, with a tomato onion and garlic sauce. There just weren't enough/big enough shrimp to let you know what you were eating in the sauce. The lamb dibi was good, spicy with flecks of hot pepper. Thicker than shwerma. Kind of like thin filets.
So we tried a version of every main dish on the menu. The plantains are good but they're starchy, not sweet at all like at Tropix, where they're just about caramelized and pretty damn yum.
Went here on Friday for an early dinner with friends from Cameroon and Liberia (okay not Senegal, where most of the dishes are from, but they more familiar with the regional cuisine than I). Both the food and the friendly, thoughtful service will have me coming back.
We ordered the plantains and the pastilles to start. On my night, the plantains were done nice and dark, so you could nibble around the edges to get those nice bits of chewy carmel, my favorite part. It came with a runny dipping sauce; I'm not sure what was in it, but it seemed to have the taste of sweetened condensed milk. The combination sounds overly sweet but it really worked.
The pastilles are fried dumplings (like flat empanadas) filled with meat or veggies, and topped with a spicy sauce featuring large chunks of tomato. We had the vegetarian version with gombo saff (spinach and okra stew), but I wish it could have been filled a bit more so you could taste the gombo saff better. It might be a lot to ask; since gombo saff is quite runny, I imagine it would be a challenge to get much of it into a dumpling!
For dinner, my friend ordered the chicken yassa with rice; it was garnished with onion and covered with a mustardy sauce. The sauce was great, but unfortunately the leg quarter seemed to be a bit overdone, which was a shame. The rice came as two scoops of plain white rice; a little more of the yassa gravy could have been added to enjoy with the rice.
My Liberian friend ordered the fish tchou, a fillet of white fish (tilapia?) with an smooth tomato, red pepper and garlic sauce. It was good, but the least impressive dish of the evening. The hit, in my opinion, was the daily special -- broken rice and stewed codfish. The rice was savory, and a little sticky, stained red with what I think might have been palm oil. The fish, which was bathed in a spicy and salty stew, was served on the bone. Although there was actually very little meat in my portion, we all know that the tastiest part of the fish is the stuff right by bones, and I was content to just suck the gravy and meat off the bones and call it the best dish of the evening.
We were so stuffed we had no room for dessert; they had a couple of interesting sounding options, including a Senegalese yogurt with raisins, nutmeg and couscous. I should add that the ginger and hibiscus juices were wonderful. The hibiscus juice was darker and stronger than what you might find at a Mexican restaurant. And the ginger one was cut with pineapple juice, a nice balance of sweet and hot.
I was there about 2 weeks ago. My husband had fish yasse (?), which he really liked, but I don't remember the taste personally. I had the lamb dibi, the meat was very nicely & evenly cooked, with an unintrusive lamb flavor the way lamb should taste when it's cooked right. The sweet onions were grilled long enough to carmelize, but still retained their crunchy bite. The salad was lightly dressed and went well with the lamb. I love their couscous, I think they have the best couscous out of all the stuffs I have tried here in the Bay Area. We also ordered plantains, which were excellent. I think the dip was yogurt of some sort. That Friday evening was kinda sad, because we were there during prime-time to witness about ... 4 customers the whole entire hour, when we left at 9:00, it didn't look like any more customers would come. I really think the manager should light up the restaurant just a bit more, simple tea-candle light just would not cut it. From out-side in, the restaurant doesn't even look like it's open for business. No liquor liscense yet, but the ginger drink was nice.
Just ate there tonight with husband, taking a friend who wanted to try it. The beef pastilles were the single tastiest thing I've eaten in the past few months. Honest.
The fish remains far superior to the chicken.
One time, just one time, I want to go just for dessert. I keep getting too full to order.
Caveat: they'll need to add to the menu soon or people will be tired of the (basically) four dish menu.
Been to Taxi Brousse four times over three months, and it does vary a bit in quality, especially late in the evening. However, even the worst day there has been more interesting and better tasting than most veggie-friendly places in the Berkeley area. They are willing to make veggie versions (with spiced & lighly pan-fried tofu) of most dishes, but you have to ask. The music is never deafening, and the mustardy pickled onion relish is a bit snappy and sweet.
Try the little fried pie appetizers, and you get a crispy-tender gombo saff empanada topped with that addictive onion relish. (I have a test recipe pickling in my fridge right now!)
Ask for spicy in other dishes if you like it so (and I do), but expect to savor the gombo saff for its mellow spinach and hint of vinegar. (Seems that most places are afraid to serve any fiery spices to honkeys like myself, but you _can_ get them to do it if you are a noticeable repeat customer.)
If you have any room for dessert, I can vouch for the chocolate cake/brownie/pudding. It is warm, crusty, melty and lovely with the scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.
Try this place again. Though they really need a name sign that lights up at night, they do seem to have settled on a regular schedule for dinner hours.
Sorry, not a drinker, so I didn't note. However, I'll try to find out next time we go. I feel like the server recognizes us now (we keep bringing different friends each time, but we barely restrain ourselves from licking the plates regardless of our companions), so perhaps it would be reasonable to ask if they plan to add any other dishes. I'll post any responses & drinks info.
I think they have started to put a sandwich-board type sign out near the curb at night, now. Hope they get some business!
I just don't want to live without that onion relish. Seems to be a variant of a dish called "yassa".