Hayward >Food & Dining > Neumanali
Cozy, Warm and Wonderful. Wow a real fine dining restaurant somewhere south of Berkeley! With a wine list you might find at some of the better spots in the Bay Area and a menu (though somewhat compact) which seems aimed at satisfying (I was) and its in.....Hayward? I hope this is a trend for the South Bay and all of us who are getting tired of the long drives after dining in San Francisco or Berkeley or where ever else. When we first arrived we sat at their cozy wine bar and enjoyed the music being played on the vibraphone. Honestly I didn't know there were any spots for jazz down this way. After getting a nice recommendation on wine from the bar tender (we did walk their wine selection on display up front....I admit I am a label reader) and listening to the soothing music we were ushered out to the patio and seated next to a fountain in a lovely, isolated garden. This would have been good enough for me...but then came the food. I'm old fashion and I love a good steak and my favorite is the grilled rib eye. It was cooked just as I asked (medium rare) and my companion had the Lamb (which can be tricky) and they enjoyed every bite. I thought the presentations were good but a little plain and I would like to see more on the starter side of the menu. The desert though was interesting...a grilled, peach Sunday which was wonderful. If you measure fine dining on a satisfaction scale I give Neumanali's high marks. We need more places like this in Southern Alameda County!
From the outset, there are signs that something is wrong here. None of them are a reflection on the live jazz, which was enjoyable.
The rave reviews from it's opening were obviously due to the chef at the time. Whoever it was, they took every shred of decent dining with them.
The overwhelming atmosphere can best be described as pretentious. Sadly, there is no reason for the current owners to HAVE any pretentions. Define pretentious you say? OK,:
-Are salt & pepper shakers suddenly uncool? A teeny tiny split plate, with salt on one side & pepper on the other, with their own individual teeny tiny spoons.
-Is a plate of vinegar & oil the new butter? It's possible, but doubtful that the bread was baked there. Why would I want to dip it in vinegar & oil?
-Are the new manners for the owner & chef to come to your table - & acknowledge no one except a casual acquaintence of theirs, & not inquire about one's meal?
Hors d'oeuvre were uniformly over the top: one can't ruin clams - but they found a way by overspicing the sauce in which they sat. Served with hard, unbuttered toast. ..to soak in the overpowering, taste bud destroying sauce. Speaking of unbuttered, again, there was no butter.
Make up your mind on the scallops, please: raw, cooked, warm, cold? Sitting on a bed of vinegar-soaked greens.
Pecans SO hot and spicy, they should be served ONLY at the bar - NOT as an hors d'oeuvres.
Tuna tartare - on a tortilla chip. REALLY.
The obligatory sea bass - but they were out. Mahi Mahi, pork chops, lamb chops, chicken, & filet mignon.
Good news: the meat was cooked exactly right: the medium was medium, the rare was rare, etc. Asparagus: Burnt at the ends, tiny, tasteless-EVERY ENTREE.. Potatos au gratin -baked in a crust? With a side of mashed? Lamb chops - overcooked, as was the accompanying rice/couscous/hummus/mush side dish.
Dessert: the mousse is from a box, the Affogato's expresso was just too strong, bad coffee.
Nice patio, though.
This is the place to go in Hayward. I have eaten at Neumanali a couple times now and both times have been awesome. There is a nice wine offering at reasonable prices, try the Miura pinot, and the food has been kick a*s every time I've been. I have been searching for the best restaurant in the area and this one is the best I've found. Bring some friends because the area is not yet as hip as the restaurant and go to Buffalo Bills down the street for a nightcap.
Editorial Review. Restaurant and wine bar features fine food and art.
Used to be better.
12/07 Had to update my old review below. Last 2 visits (1 dinner, 1 lunch) were funky. Seems like there's no chef back there, and food was lackluster. The pulled pork sandwich was hideous, the pork nasty brown DRY JERKY, 'caramelized' onions barely cooked. Seemed like they were out of so many items, including creme brulee?! Should be 2 stars, but really reluctant to completely write off the only pretty bistro-like place in this culinary wasteland.
Original review 11/05: Loved this discovery! Visited on a whim instead of going into SF. What a pleasant surprise. Have returned twice already. Excellent restored house. Elegant but cozy interior with warm lighting accentuating artwork on walls. No problem parking.
Short, seasonally changed menu with nice representation. Appetizers pretty good. Main entrees of braised lamb shank with spaeztle, seared duck breast over risotto, and ribeye dishes fantastic and perfectly done, but the ravioli and fish with winter veggies dishes were bit oversalted. Desserts good. Nice wine selection, reasonable prices. Service was very courteous and attentive at all times.
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