Neumanali, Hayward

by foodhoe on November 19, 2005

Neumanali occupies the first floor of a renovated victorian home in downtown Hayward where there is a bit of gentrification evident in the jamba juice and shopping district done in the standard mall earthtone hues. I had such great expectations for this restaurant after reading some favorable reviews. The restaurant has good potential and I really hope that it will develop and sharpen. The service was friendly and efficient and there were some intriguing paintings on the walls created by local artists.

I ordered the Caesar salad which was an unexpected taste sensation, entire head of romaine sliced in half lengthwise, and then lightly grilled. The combination of smoky charred edges with the cool crispness of the lettuce, and the tart silky texture of the dressing spiked with bits of, sweet and salty reggiano was intoxicating on my tastebuds. The salad was epic in size being an entire head of romaine (I believe it was supposed to be the heart, but it still was a very large portion). Mr. K thought it was under-dressed, but perhaps it was just his half (this was also surprising as he is usually complaining about heavy-handedness…) The butternut squash soup was very thick and dull tasting.

Both of our entrees were disappointing in that they both tasted as though more than a few people had liberally finished off the dish with a handful of salt, without consulting each other. Each bite was a throat burning, tastebud numbing experience. I had the house-made roasted vegetable ravioli, which seemed to have been well-prepared, and the roasted duck which I had read somewhere equaled the duck of Bay Wolf. The sad thing is that the basic dishes would have been excellent but my only impression and memory is of the over-salting problem. In fact, both of us hardly touched our entrees. We passed on dessert and agreed to that we should give it another try.

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