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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bad Timing; Or, Once Is Unfortunate, but Twice Seems Bizarre

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2008 at 11:48 AM

By Meredith Brody

The November issue of Oakland magazine is a food issue, bannered as "Food for Food Lovers," and one of the cover story banners reads "Seven Top Chefs Dish on the Restaurant Scene."

The piece, "Articles of Faith," begins: "Never before has Oakland had the kind of thriving, upscale restaurant scene that today not only gives Oaklanders the sort of options they used to seek out predominantly in San Francisco and Berkeley but also attracts more and more diners from those outsider bastions of gastronomic sophistication...Proof of Oakland's cornucopia of haute cuisine can be found in the fact that even with seven of the city's fabled, famed and rising-star chefs gathered around one table at the same time, another such roundtable or two could easily have been organized featuring different voices from different kitchens."

Well, maybe they should have reached out for at least one different voice. Within minutes of the issue hitting the stands, it seemed, chef-owner Curt Clingman, one of the magnificent seven, who is quoted in the piece as saying what's gratifying about having a restaurant in Oakland is "that our neighborhood really seems to have embraced who we are and why we're there," announced that he was closing his nine-year-old Jojo.

Clingman, partner with his wife Mary Jo Thoresen, the pastry chef, "attributes the closure to the worsening economy." No! (We always liked Jojo, but we think that the menu reads almost exactly as it did nine years ago, making repeat visits a little problematic.)

Anyway, the timing is a trifle unfortunate. Long lead times in the magazine biz and all that.

But it gets worse. The cover of the December issue for San Francisco magazine, billboarded as Sweet spots: the Bay Area's smartest desserts, is the chocolate soufflé cake that Thoresen offers at Jojo, sitting in a lake of black currant tea crème anglaise, "topped with a flurry of powdered sugar and candied almonds," and said that it "shatters every cliché of the tired genre." (Very broad-minded,indeed, of San Francisco magazine to feature an Oakland dessert on its cover.)

You can still taste it, if you hurry. Jojo is closing after dinner on December 31st. Happy New Year!

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Meredith Brody


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