Review by Elizabeth Skow
Bayview's newest eatery, Radio Africa & Kitchen, was bustling last Wednesday night as Chef Eskender Aseged moved gracefully between the kitchen and the dining room, alternately cooking and greeting each customer who entered the earth-toned, muted space at 4800 Third Street.
We arrived early and were among the first customers of the evening but, by the time my dinner companion and I gave up our candle-lit table, the restaurant was nearly full. It was surprising to see so many people out in one place in Bayview, a place where restaurants seem to have trouble staying afloat. But after eating the wonderfully prepared, carefully served food, I understood.
We were able to sample nearly everything on the week's menu - soup to dessert, four shared appetizers, one entrée each plus dessert - for under $100. Manager and host Cynthia Field made sure we had everything we needed and answered all of our questions about the food. She's worked with Aseged for six years helping with the pop up restaurant and catering business that led to this new establishment.
Potato-leek soup with green garlic was my meal-starter, and was so tasty that my vegetarian companion was afraid it was chicken based. (No, we were assured by our super competent but not hovering server, everything on the menu is vegan unless otherwise noted.)
A salad of butter lettuce, avocado and tangerines, simply dressed with salt and olive oil, was a great companion to a raw tuna kitfo that proved to be a standout with its dab of crème fraiche and peppery arugula leaves.
Mushroom crostini with English peas, Manchengo cheese and basil was rich and crunchy, while remaining fresh and light.
The roasted leg of lamb, served with ratatouille and couscous, was succulent, sweet and tender. The Jerusalem artichoke soufflé with lentils was flavorful, with the lentils cooked to tender but firm perfection.
A simple dessert of a poached pear, a small sliver of rich chocolate torte, a few berries and a generous dollop of thick hand-whipped cream was a perfect combination to end a lovely meal.
There is no alcohol yet at Radio Africa Kitchen, but guests are encouraged to bring wine or beer with them. No corkage fee.
Bayview bustles at RA&K
The service was sincere, personal, and attentive without being overbearing. The space is understated and simple, yet elegant. I noticed that the volume became slightly loud as the space filled up. But that didn't bother me. In fact, my only suggestion would be to put cushions on the lovely blonde wood benches so that the customers who want to stay and eat for hours (me!) don't get sore posteriors. Of course one can always sit in a chair.
With lunch starting in April, and Sunday brunch coming in May, it looks like Radio Africa & Kitchen will be at home in Bayview for some time to come. Lucky us!