By Kathy Chouteau
The first thing that struck this reporter on a recent visit to The Artisan Kitchen & Café is that it fully lives up to its name; its artistic approach to everything is evident.
On a recent sunny spring day, The Rich Life stopped by The Artisan Kitchen & Café at 865 Marina Bay Parkway to sample its lunch menu. The café’s environs are warm and welcoming, with a spacious outdoor seating area marked by red umbrellas, charming café tables and vibrant flowers. Inside, menus were expertly displayed upon chalkboards and beautiful dishes were displayed behind glass cases, further revealing the eatery’s overall vibe: one part California cuisine, one part European café.
From its locale in Richmond’s Marina Bay neighborhood, The Artisan Kitchen & Café specializes in serving breakfast and lunch selections created with only the freshest, locally sourced, organic ingredients.
That day, Liane Ingham, founder of the café and its adjacent cooperative kitchen, was at the epicenter of activity: taking down orders at the counter and staffing the cash register, all with a friendly charm that made her patrons feel right at home. Ingham appeared familiar with more than one diner in the café that afternoon and she chatted them up enthusiastically while she multitasked behind the counter. It was just the sort of ‘where-everybody-knows-your-name’ friendliness that exemplifies one of the best things about Richmond.
So many of The Artisan Kitchen & Café’s lunch menu selections tempted me during my visit, but I finally settled on ordering for my husband and myself the Fried Buttermilk Chicken sandwich with chipotle coleslaw on a French roll; the BLAT, a BLT-style sandwich made with bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato and chipotle aioli served on thick brioche toast; and the Thai Salad, made with mixed greens, basil, cilantro, cucumber, red cabbage, roasted sesame tofu, roasted sunflower seeds and a lime squeeze.
All of the café’s fare was extremely fresh, flavorful and made with an artful touch. The Fried Buttermilk Chicken sandwich was created in the spirit of a po’ boy and had just the right amount of crunch, as well as spice in its accompanying chipotle coleslaw. The café’s BLAT—a BLT created with the aforementioned twist of avocado and chipotle aioli—was also a hit with my husband. We shared the Thai Salad, which came with our choice of dressing and was incredibly delicious—tasting as if the veggies were just pulled out of the garden bed.
Suffice to say, based on our positive experience, this little duo will definitely be returning to The Artisan Kitchen & Café. On my next visit, I’m looking forward to trying either the Crab Sandwich, fresh crab tossed lightly in homemade aioli served on a toasted brioche bun, or the Roasted Tri Tip Sandwich, caper mayonnaise & balsamic onions on a sourdough panini.
The Artisan Kitchen & Café is located at 865 Marina Bay Parkway, #33, in Richmond’s Marina Bay neighborhood. If you plan to go, note that the café is closed on weekends. Hours of operation are Mon.-Fri. from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 510-235-2323 or click here for more info.