Larkspur, California: Table Café for Gourmet Dosas and Chutneys

"San Franciscans take note: one of the best undiscovered meals in the Bay Area is only a half hour north."

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[Photographs: Citizen Taco]

Table Cafe

1167 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur CA 94939 (map); 415-461-6787‎

It's no secret that gourmet sandwiches have swept San Francisco of late. From Tartine Bakery and the Ferry Building's Cane Rosso to the squatting kitchens of Pal's Takeaway and Kitchenette SF—mooching space off a Mission deli and Dogpatch garage respectively—they may have even overtaken the burrito as this city's lunch of choice. Across the Golden Gate Bridge, nestled into a small Marin County version of a strip mall, a little-known restaurant called Table Café is doing something even better: gourmet dosas.

Anyone familiar with South Indian cuisine, or New York City's Hampton Chutney, knows how delicious these rice and lentil flour crepes can be. At Table Café, they make a softer, more moist dosa wrap and stuff it with any number of fillings, like smoked wild salmon with grilled frisee and aioli, or lamb meatballs with cabbage and tahini.

They also have a hefty board of daily specials, including salads, soups, and pre-made take-home dinners, all made from "the best of organic locally farmed produce and other sustainably produced ingredients." (And with so many fertile farms in the surrounding region, that actually means something.) San Franciscans take note: one of the best undiscovered meals in the Bay Area is only a half hour north.

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Right now Table's regulars are primarily suburban soccer moms, but the food here merits a special trip. Once you're there, order at the counter and sit at one of a half dozen tables. Or ask for your dosa to-go and get a head start to your next destination.

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To start I ordered an avocado-grapefruit salad, served on a bed of mixed greens and scallions. A dollop of cottage cheese and chili jam mixes nicely with acidity of the fruit, and my only complaint was that I could have used more of the outstanding ginger-lime dressing.

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Selecting just one or two dosas will likely be the hardest choice you have to make all week, but every item here is a winner. I went with one menu item and one daily special: the curried cauliflower dosa with wilted baby spinach greens and pickled vegetables, and the special duck dosa made from shredded duck leg and packed with balsamic roasted onions and fresh arugula.

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No dosa would be complete without a chutney, and Table has some of the best I've ever had. My favorites are the pear chutney (flavored with cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger) and the avocado-orange salsa.

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For those who still need a bread fix, sitting atop the cold case of bottled beverages and pre-made salads you'll find a basket of organic baguettes from Brick Maiden Breads in Point Reyes. A few slices come free with each order, but you can also buy a whole one for only four bucks. (Also be sure to check out the nationally-renowned Rustic Bakery only a few doors down.)