Last Thursday night (early January, 2003), for the fourth time since our daughter was born nine months ago, Mike and I got to have a "date" night - the two of us out without the baby. Mike wanted to go to a nice, romantic place where we hadn't been before. I wanted to stay in the East Bay because I didn't want to deal with the hassles of going to the city. As several of our choices were closed that night (not that they said so in their recorded messages), we found ourselves driving up and down Solano Ave. in Albany looking for a place that looked somewhat romantic.
That's how we ended up at Beauregard's, a relatively new restaurant that has taken over the space previously occupied by Khayyam's Chelo Kebab. The walls have been painted in a warm, light orange color, which gives it a hip, welcoming atmosphere, but the architecture of the room hasn't been altered. The arches and curves give the space a Mediterranean look that doesn't clash too badly with the advertised "California bistro" concept. The lights are pretty dim, and if it wasn't for the high, uncomfortable chairs, it would be a great place to have a relaxed dinner. The chairs, however, seem to have been built to encourage a quick turnover; by the end of the meal, our sore thighs and buttocks were begging us to leave.
Beauregard's menu concentrates on light offerings: appetizers, soups and salads, pizzas and pastas. Those with larger appetites will find just four entrees: a roast chicken, pork chops, a fish of the day and a vegetable platter. As we were rather hungry, this was a disappointment. The prices, though, especially those of the entrees, were exceptionally reasonable; pastas and pizzas were mostly in the single digits and the entrees hovered in the low teens. Dessert prices, at $5.50 each (plus $1.50 for a la mode), were more in tune with those of loftier restaurants. We liked that the menu included a number of kid's dishes. Michaela is too young for that yet but it shows that children are welcomed. Indeed, there was a perfectly behaved toddler at the table next to ours. I didn't take a look at the wine list, but I've read that it's pretty good.
The food was generally good. The three slices of bread we were served were delicious - though we would have appreciated a more generous portion and some butter (when we asked for them, they were promptly brought). As an appetizer, we shared a dish of gnocchi in a light parmesan sauce. The gnocchi were incredibly light and fluffy, but the sauce was too mild for our taste and we wouldn't order it again. I had the herb roasted chicken as my main dish and I was amazed at how flavorful it was. It was a tad overdone, but the meat was very tasty and the skin just heavenly. Mike's pork chops were also very good. The accompanying mashed potatoes were fine, but nothing too special.
For dessert, Mike had the apple crisp a la mode. It was a little bit too sweet for my taste, but he enjoyed it very much. I had the Lava Cake, a chocolate cake with a warm dark chocolate filling and an accompanying berry sauce. The warm filling was divine, but the cake itself was dry, the berry sauce was too sweet and tart, and I didn't like it with the cake. The whole thing was screaming for something lighter to subdue the flavors; the accompanying very light whipped cream didn't do it, but some vanilla ice cream would probably have worked well.
The service throughout the evening was very good; our waitress was very cheery (maybe a tad too much) and helpful. All in all we had a great time and felt it was a very good experience for the price. Our whole bill (which included two beers) came out to about $60 before the tip. We'd probably go back there if we were in the neighborhood and were in the mood for something light.
1373 Solano Ave.