Yesterday's bargain lunch-three and a half courses for $3.50-at the California Culinary Academy's Careme 350 restaurant was a winner. The food was made and served by culinary students. There were some glitches; our bill was presented before we ate dessert, and sometimes we were waiting for utensils or food, but the light filled room and tasty fare worked. Everything looks clean and new at Careme 350. There aren't defecating vagrants, smoking students in uniform, or flashing prostitutes outside the building, which was an issue at the CCA's old Polk Street campus.
Other diners included construction workers, office peeps, and a few grey haired senior citizens. The place was about 80% full and capacity is just over two hundred people. Nothing felt rushed, and the mood was happy. The $3.50 promotion was for both lunch and dinner yesterday, and included three and a half courses.Two senior CCA staff members visited tables to make sure customers were happy.
Le Menu was as follows:
Spicy mini shrimp cake with lemongrass & chervil
Appetizer (choice of 1)
Sauteed portobella and oyster mushrooms, shallots, frisee and watercress with Jeres Spanish vinegar
Homemade pasta Greek style, with fresh oregano, feta cheese, Kalamata olives and Extra Virgin olive oil
California Ling Cod gratinee with a Dijon mousseline served with steamed Tournee potatoes.
Roasted leg of lamb with garlic, baby Lima beans and Linguica sausage.
Chocolate tart with mango sauce
Almond cake with whipped cream, raspberries and strawberries
We did wonder about one thing: is it right (or even legal) for the Careme 350 to use "all gratuities" for their "scholarship fund"? I like the idea of helping with scholarships but don't feel this is the right way to do so. I'd rather the money go directly to the dining room and kitchen crew, as is the case at other restaurants. It's been some time since I studied restaurant law, but the Careme 350's policy seems unfair at first glance.