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The Cosmopolitan Café

blends worldy class with a regional flavor

Decked out in deep reds, ominous blacks, and strategic back-lighting, The Cosmopolitan Café seems more fitting to New York in the 1950's than the Rincon Center by the Embarcadero today. Imagine Old Blue Eyes swigging a martini after crooning. Now imagine where he'd be. That's the look and feel of the Cosmopolitan Café. And perhaps this is why most of the clientele are on the plus side of 35 years old. The six owners of the Cosmopolitan Café don't appear to be trying to attract younger patrons. There is no chrome, no fabulously curved couches or chairs, no electronic beats blaring in the background. It's traditionally classy. And that's exactly the same approach to the food.

Chef Steve Levine brings something for everyone to the menu, including a farmer's market vegetarian entrée, which changes frequently. The starters menu contains several salads and light fare, each with perfect portions and tastes to warm up the palette before the main course. We opted for the daily changing trio appetizer of the day, which focused on tuna. An excellent way to get several tastes on one plate, the trio consisted of a small portion of competitively tasting tuna tartare, seared tuna on a bed of greens, and a tuna pate.

The starters yield the spotlight to the stars of the show, the entrees. You'll find the usual suspects on the menu's lineup; fish, steak, chicken, and pork dishes all prepared exquisitely. The sauteed dayboat scallops with oxtail can be summed up in one word: flavor. The intensity of the dish was accompanied by its deceivingly filling heartiness, leaving taste buds breathless and the stomach contently satiated. The grilled Niman Ranch pork chop with macaroni and three cheese gratin was nearly a three course meal in itself. True, it was very filling and on the Dom DeLuise side of heavy, but it was tasty enough to warrant repeated bites until the plate was dishwasher clean.

An extensive wine list complements the menu, with wine by the glass and by the bottle in all price ranges. The list is almost entirely Northern California wines, in all varietals. The bar at the center of the restaurant is fully stocked, and has several quality beers on tap. Our table was visited by nearly all members of the floor staff at one point or another during our dining experience, a sure sign of a unified staff. Even though the restaurant has not been open a full year, our waitress fielded questions as if she had grown up with the menu.

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