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Albany - Taxi Brousse – Mmmmm-eltingly tender lamb (interesting beers soon)

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  • rworange Apr 20, 2006 12:23 AM
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Marinated in spices that brought out the best in the lamb, the thin, chop-like pieces were almost fork tender.

I’m the type of person who doesn’t often pick up bones in restaurants to clean every last piece of meat. I’ve been known to use a fork and knife on BBQ ribs and fried chicken. Yet that lamb was so good I chewed every last piece off the bones. I was in lamb-y bliss.

Work with me here. I’m not saying the cuisine right away. Hint one. A lot of the staff was speaking French.

The lamb came with plantains (ok, rules out French food) … perfect plantains … the plantains by which I will judge all others. They were so hot that I needed a second to let them cool.

The golden plantains were caramelized on the outside and incredibly creamy inside with a suggestion of sweetness. Earlier this week I proclaimed I really didn’t like plantains after all … never mind … this is what I always dreamt plantains could be.

There was also the lightest, small-grain couscous with the lamb. There was a choice of three sauces with the lamb. I chose the mafe, a lovely peanut sauce that was mixed with vegetables like onions and (I think) cabbage. It was flavorful and surprisingly matched with the lamb very nicely.

For dessert - Thiakry, a sour-cream like yogurt that was mixed with vanilla, nutmeg and couscous, then topped with a few raisins. Excellent.

Who knew Senegalese food could be this tasty? Who knew what Senegalese food was?

It will be a few weeks before they get their liquor license, but they are planning to have beer from various countries in Africa, some of which I never heard of … the countries, that is. Don’t know how good African beers are though.

It will just be a beer and wine license, but they are planning some cocktails using some sort of liquor that passes for wine like sake or soju … just probably not those. They are trying to match the food with the cocktails.

For now there is a hibiscus drink and a ginger drink. They let me try a sip of each. It was an excellent hibiscus, but the ginger was more interesting. A opaque pineapple colored beverage that had a nice ginger note without excessive heat.

The only complaint I had was the price of the drink - $3.25 for a small glass. Well, the only other nit was the hot sauce. I was asked if I wanted any and I never turn down anything offered. It turned out to be little plastic packets of a vinegary hot sauce. The food didn’t need it, but I was curious if it was anything special. Nope

Taxi Brousse opened this week on San Pablo Avenue, a few blocks away from Acme and Café Fanny. It is still a work in progress. They won’t have a formal menu until next week. I listed the dishes they currently have at the end.

They will be open evenings in about a month, but they still haven’t hired the wait staff and are still putting the finishing touches on the menu. The staff needs a little training. The no-nonsense tall, thin African chef shouted out the order when it was ready … loudly shouted it until they explained that perhaps it wasn’t the best way to announce something was ready. That man can cook though. I’ll do the shouting … of praise.

It is pleasant inside. The large windows let in lots of light and there are wooden seats along the walls. Once the patio gets cleaned up, it should be very nice, especially on a warm night. There is African background music, sort of reggae-like. Three colorful paintings of Africans in dashikis and other African attire are on the walls.

Orders are placed at the counter. It is a comfortable, casual place and the people there are very friendly. If all the food is as good as what I had today, this will be a VERY welcome addition to the neighborhood.

As mentioned in earlier posts, it is owned by the same people who have Bissap Baobab and Little Baobab in the city. The menu will be similar. See link below. Looking forward to others reports on this place.

It is currently open for lunch Monday thru Saturday from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm. A bowl of that Sengalese yogurt would make a very pleasant breakfast dish … maybe with a plate of those plantains.

A taxi brousse is a bush taxi in Africa.

Current menu

APPETIZERS:

Lentil Soup $3.25
African Tabuleh $3.75
Tropical Salad $4.75

ALOKO - Fried plantains

MAIN DISHES

MAFE -Originally from the border of Mali
Chicken or tofu in a peanut sauce served with vegetables.

YASSA -Originally from Casamance
Marinated chicken or fish or tofu with grilled onions in a lemon garlic mustard sauce. Served with a choice of rice or couscous.
-with chicken or tofu
-with fish

TCHOU
Marinated onions with tomatoes, garlic and red pepper
- with chicken
- with fish or shrimp

DIBI LAMB - Originally from Dakar (Senegal)
Marinated thin and tender pieces of lamb served with yassa, mafe or tchou sauce

SANDWICHES

Served with fried plantains. The filling is stuffed into a really good looking round, flat Mid-Eastern bread

COXER CHICKEN
Boneless pieces of chicken kebab with your choice of heart of Africa mafe sauce, yassa or tchou sauce

CLANDO VEGGIE
Tofu kebab served with grilled bell pepper, zucchini, tomato, fennel and onions in lemon cardamom and turmeric sauce.

MARABOUT LAMB
Not sure what this is. They were just putting up the menu board just as I wasl leaving.

JOAL SHRIMP $8.75
Grilled shrimp marinated in mustard & molasses, cayenne pepper and paprika

DESSERTS

THIAKRY $4.25
Senegalese yogurt (vanilla, nutmeg, raisins, milk, and couscous)

WARM CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE $4.25

They also have lunch combos with appetizer, sandwich, dessert, soda (add $.50 for dessert)

Full Pass $10.50
Choice of appetizer or dessert, a kabob sandwich, soda

Karapede $7.50
A kebob sandwich and soda

Dourdara $11.75
Choice of mafe, yassa, tchou with a side of plantain. Includes soda

Repair $7.75
Choice of an appetizers and Senegalese yogurt

Taxi Brousse
1101 San Pablo Ave.
Albany, CA 94706
(510) 558-0939

Hours:
Closed Sunday
Monday – Friday: 10:30 am – 2:30 pm
Saturday: 10:30 am – 3:30 pm

Link: http://www.bissapbaobab.com/menu.html

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  1. The music you heard in the background might have been Youssou N'Dour, a world-famous Senegalese singer. Fabulous talent.

    Sounds like a trip from Oakland to Berkeley is coming up soon. Thanks for yet another great report.