Out of sight: Café Claude

Examining hidden gems among The City’s back streets and alleyways.

Café Claude

7 Claude Lane

(415) 392-3505

Hard to find factor: 3

1 Not too bad

2 Takes some searching

3 Ask a native

4 Bring a map

Neighborhood: Financial District

On the downlow since: 1989

Vive La France!: Space is at a premium at this tiny eatery, but the cozy fleet of small, candlelit bistro tables arranged in the adjacent alley add a bit more square footage, and more times than not guarantees you a seat. Mirrored after those same cafés in Paris that Americans devour so eagerly, much of the atmosphere has been collected from a retired Parisian café. No faking it here. So even if you aren’t up for a bite to eat, sidle up to the zinc bar for happy hour and get a fabulous cucumber presse (cucumber-infused vodka, lemon and simply syrup) for $4.

Boom-Boom Room: Don’t forget to check out a few of the local jazz bands booked throughout the month. In the 12 years this establishment has showcased established and emerging jazz ensembles, it has managed to build quite an impressive roster. This month alone, the popular Marcus Shelby, Jerry Oakley Quartet and Belinda Blair, among a slew of others, light up the night.

Gourmet Getaway: What we love about Café Claude is how easy it is to grab a gorgeous, authentic French meal, without any pomp or circumstance. It’s the kind of place that is as comfortable as a broken-in pub, yet fancy enough that you still feel like you’ve done something good for yourself by simply going there. Though we were tempted to begin with one of the delicious charcuterie plates or pâtés, such as the pâté provençal, made with Niman Ranch pork and flavored with green and red bell pepper, olives and herbes de province ($5). Instead we started with the endive salad, served with the leaves arranged in a very artistic tower and garnished with apples, blue cheese, candied walnuts and chives. Our hearts were definitely won over by the coquilles Saint Jacques ($11), that always-delectable and sinfully creamy blend of scallops, shrimp, mussels, mushrooms, bread crumbs and Gruyère served in the shell.

Know any hidden gems? E-mail us at outofsight@examiner.com and tell us your favorite off-the-beaten path haunts.

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